Google Instant is Google’s newest addition, changing how people search the Internet. ‘Instant’ begins predicting results starting the moment a user begins typing their search. As a user starts typing a word, Google’s homepage will instantly move to a page of results, which is updated as each letter is typed. These new searching capabilities will shave time off of Google searches.

But at what cost? Google Instant hasn’t ironed out problems that make the search tool discriminatory. According to Google, “autocomplete excludes certain terms related to pornography, violence and hate speech.” It turns out, the autocomplete unfairly excludes the words lesbian and bisexual.

Homosexual, gay, queer, dyke, transvestite, and transgender are all included as acceptable search terms. Faggot is excluded (and rightfully so, as it falls under the hate speech category). Pornography-related words, including porn and fuck are also excluded. But why are lesbian and bisexual excluded?

Lesbian and bisexual are not pornography, violence, or hate speech. It seems discriminatory for Google to place lesbian and bisexual in the porn category. They are valid identities, and they should be accepted by Google as appropriate and allowable search terms. Send the company a message now.

This surprisingly different treatment of the words lesbian and bisexual, compared to the words gay and homosexual, reflect on societal viewpoints about lesbians and bisexuals. Many people view lesbians and bisexual women as objects in pornography, ignoring the legitimate sexual identities of these women. Google Instant autocomplete exclusions should not be based on these societal prejudices.

Granted, you can still search for the terms lesbian and bisexual using a normal Google search. But it’s still odd, not to mention offensive, that the words lesbian and bisexual were placed into the same category as pornography, violence, and hate speech.

Photo credit: Danny Sullivan

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