There are thousands of words that Google has “blacklisted,” meaning they won’t trigger any suggestions within Google’s autocomplete feature. If you don’t quite understand what I’m talking about, head on over to Google and type in “football.” Before your fingers even hit the letter “t,” there’s a good chance that “football” or “football score” or something similar is dropped down as a suggestion.
Now search for “porn.” Nothing, right?
In some instances, Google does this to protect copyright. For instance, searchers of the word “torrent” will find a dearth of autocomplete suggestions. Just recently, Google added The Pirate Bay to its list of blacklisted search terms for autocomplete. In some cases, words like “amateur,” “porn,” “boobs,” and other related terms are blacklisted to…really I don’t know. To protect Google users from *gasp* pornography, I guess.
One of the words that failed to produce any autocomplete suggestions was “bisexual.” Notice the past tense here. That’s because a bisexual advocacy group is claiming to have won the battle and gotten “bisexual” off the blacklist.
“Since late 2009, Google has had “bisexual” on a list of banned words; such words were de-prioritized by the Google search algorithm, leading to a drop in search rankings for all bisexual organizations and community resources. Since its search engine would not auto-suggest or auto-complete any term with the word “bisexual”, Google made it harder for any user to find bisexual content, whether that be on coming out as bisexual or finding local support groups across the United States and elsewhere.” explains BiNet, a longtime bisexual advocacy organization.
They are claiming victory in an effort to change that. The group’s head, Faith Cheltenham, had this to say on her personal blog:
Google search results WILL vary by user, one user has already reported seeing “bisexual” when typing in “bi” while other users don’t even see “bisexual quotes” when typing in “bisexual q”. The block was lifted on August 21st as far as some VERY DEDICATED volunteers can tell. It was on that date that “bisexual q” started producing “bisexual quotes”. Just a few weeks later, I get these results when typing in “bisexual q”.
For me, typing “bise” produces a suggestion for “bisexual quotes.” I’m not seeing any other suggestions for “bisexual” on its own or anything else, however – but Google’s instant suggestions are different for everybody.
What’s particularly odd about this is that for years, Google didn’t block autocomplete results for words like “heterosexual,” “homosexual,” “asexual,” and even “trisexual.”
“We thank Google for making the right call here and for acting as a responsive corporate citizen committed to dignity and equality,” said Kate Kendell, Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.Slate]