Nathan Strang

Google Instant censors "lesbian" but "fag" is OK

Filed By Nathan Strang | September 10, 2010 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Geeks, Media
Tags: censorship

Google, in their never-ending quest to be the "third half of your brain" launched a new search service called Google Instant. Aptly named, results start to pour in the millisecond you start typing your term, and constantly update as you refine your search term. Just when you though online search couldn't get any better, Google innovates. Google instant is available to US modern web browsers, with plans to expand into other countries as well as mobile devices in the future.

Google wants Instant to be safe for kiddies and the workplace, so they filter certain terms related to pornography, violence, and hate speech from the instant view. That's all well and good (and much appreciated) but herein lies the problem. A few terms related to the LGBTBBQ are also blocked, like "lesbian" and "bisexual." The search will still go through however, if one presses "search" or hits the enter key. As per usual, certain folk are getting up in arms, and has launched a petition to get those terms whitelisted.


I made a trip to Google Instant to test out several terms in question and received some surprising results. Video after the jump.

  • Bilerico - Allowed (damn right)
  • Gay - Allowed
  • Homosexual - Allowed
  • Queer - Allowed
  • Dyke - Allowed
  • Lesbian - blocked from Google Instant
  • Transexual - blocked from Google Instant
  • Transvestite - Allowed
  • Tranny - blocked from Google Instant
  • Faggot - blocked from Google Instant
  • Fag - Allowed
  • Bisexual - blocked from Google Instant

Google's LGBT offense du Jour was not intentional. Heck, lesbian and bisexual porn is a hot ticket, and exactly why it was blacklisted on Instant. Google is aware of the issue, but whether they'll cave to a few hundred angry activists is unknown. Remember, the search isn't blocked, it just won't show up instantly. I think taking an extra half second from your rigorous schedule to hit enter is OK. We've managed this long without it.

I did, however, see an oversight that should warrant a few emails (petitions are a little much for this don't you think?) to Google HQ. Typing "faggot" will get blocked due to hate speech, but "fag" is allowed.

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I can't agree with the "fag" term. Fag is not always a derogatory term and means different things in different areas of the world. It's typically only used in the US as a negative word.

Ed, I totally agree with your point there. As you said, "fag" is generally a US term, and right now Google Instant is only available in the US. In other countries other words should be ommited. I'm not too far on the side of blacklisted words or words to be approved, just saying that if an argument was to be made, Fag should be blacklisted.

Yeah, Google knows what country you live in and gives you a different product based on that. I used to be able to go back to America by typing in "" but now they took that away and I have to play with the advanced settings if I'm not on my computer.

Perhaps "fag" is allowed because it is British slang for "cigarette."

"Transsexual" is not blocked from Google Instant, it just has two s's. :)

That's weird, b/c I tried before Nathan's post was up with 2-s's and it didn't work. It didn't work with 1-s either.

You're right... when I typed in "transsexual," it actually is suggesting results for "transsexualism," the phenomenon Chris describes below involving the word "gay." Strange that "transsexual" is blocked while "transsexualism" is not.

Actually, just the word gay is blocked. When you type gay, Google assumes you are searching for Gaylord. But if you put a space after gay and look just for the word gay Google does not return any results.

This is just like the word Lesbian. Now if you type Lesbian Rights it returns results.

I definitely have to say I disagree with blocking these terms.

Apparently the folks who got fired at Amazon last year for blacklisting queer books got jobs at Google Instant.

Wow that is interesting. I think you have to turn instant off to get results for gay.

Yeah, so fag is also a term for a cigarette. Lesbian is also a person from the Isle of Lesbos. I wonder how they feel about being censored? Maybe they'll sue. :D

CassandraToday | September 11, 2010 10:33 AM

Actually, "faggot" has a legitimate meaning too -- a piece of firewood.

I'm generally opposed to someone assuming what I'm thinking from what I type on the web.