Google Instant has shaved seconds off search queries. But it’s also added instant morals to everyone’s favorite search engine. This is something we learned in an awkward moment during the Google Instant unveiling this week, when AdAge reporter Irena Slutsky asked why
she couldn’t get Google Instant to autofill her name during a search. The short answer: there are no “sluts”–or even Slutskys–on Google Instant. Type in s-l-u-t… and Google Instant responds with a blank stare. There’s no need for Safe Search anymore!
In some ways, this is a parent’s dream. Type in everything from “hardcore” to “pussy” and Google Instant will ignore your request for helpful suggestions. It’s still easy enough to search for porn–type in “teen” with safe search off and press return, and you’ll still get a barely legal trove of pictures and videos. Google Instant just won’t indulge your fantasies with instant results.
But while the feature may act as a protective barrier against inta-porn, it’s also prone to some pretty ridiculous misunderstandings. There is, for instance, the Slutsky issue, which extends to other problematic names like “Dick Butkus.” Can’t remember the name of the greatest linebacker of all time? Google Instant won’t help.
Need to do some anatomy research? “Penis,” “vagina,” and “anus” also don’t exist in the world of Google Instant. Yet for some reason, Google Instant is willing to help out with select terms–“clitoris,” “breast,” and “testicles” all seem to be fair game.
Some searches lead to embarrassing results. A search for “Sperry” momentarily leads to a page full of information about sperm, and a query for “viagogo” (an online ticket exchange site) leads to a page plastered with Viagra.
But ultimately, we don’t mind the momentarily embarrassing search results so much as Google’s selective censorship. Because really, who gets to decide that “breast” trumps “vagina”?