Google’s recently-launched Instant Search might be better titled Instant Censorship, with the feature only working on nice, clean language.
Hacker magazine 2600 is compiling a list of blocked words which still require the user to click on ‘search’.
Musicians looking to learn more about fingering will have to exercise their digits just a little more. The list is also bad news for poultry enthusiasts, cat owners and people called Richard.
There’s just a touch of inconsistency, too. While ‘lesbian’ and ‘bisexual’ are apparently beyond the pale, ‘homosexual’ and ‘trisexual’ are just fine. ‘Suck’ is out, while ‘blow’ is in.
One interesting little feature of the list is that it aims to prevent racial or cultural generalisations – but only against certain groups. Type ‘Blacks are…’, or ‘Muslims are…’ for example, and you’ll need to hit ‘search’.
By contrast, Google leaps to anticipate your wishes if you try ‘Iraqis are…’ or ‘Scientologists are…’ – indeed, its first suggestion for the latter is ‘Scientologists are nuts’.
“Give it a try,” say the site’s compilers. “Go to the Google home page. Type in ‘puppy’ and see the many results that fill your screen.
“Now type ‘bitch’ and admire the blank screen. In this case, the two words could mean the exact same thing. But Google Instant is erring on the side of caution, protecting the searcher from seeing something they may not want to see.”
There’s a more serious side to the matter, though, they say. It’s still possible to search on non-blacklisted terms by hitting ‘Enter’ – but the list that appears isn’t the same as that from Instant Search.
“Entering ‘murder’ into the search bar gets you suggestions of mostly band names. It’s only after you hit return that you can learn the other sinister meaning of the word. What we have here is a demonstration of how content can be filtered, controlled, and ultimately suppressed,” they say.
“It is indeed a good thing that Google isn’t evil.”
The full list is here, but be warned: there’s terms in there that are so filthy that even we don’t know what they mean.