Google’s Bi Problem

This originally appeared in BCN issue 114.

Google has a problem with bisexuals.  UK bisexual news site BiMedia highlighted it a year ago and this summer an American writer for news site the Huffington Post picked up on it.

When you start to type in words on their web search page, the website’s predictive search kicks in and offers suggestions of what you might be looking for as you type while you are typing it. However when you type ‘bisexual’ that doesn’t happen.

At first when I heard this, I thought it was the “sex”.  You could imagine that being a combination of letters that Google might have flagged up as something they didn’t want to offer suggestions when typed; it’d be a decision I would disagree with but could see how it might be a line that might be taken.  However, trying out common alternatives to the ‘b’ word omnisexual and pansexual you don’t hit the same problem: up come suggestions of what you might be looking for.  A spokesperson for the firm told the Huff when asked about the block on bisexual and bisexuality that “our automatic filters detect a strong correlation on the (unfiltered) Internet between those terms and pornography”.  And there’s no mood at corporate HQ to tweak that, even if it is making it harder for people to find support and advice.

So it seems Google thinks for now that the b-word is a bad word, and is doing its best to stop people finding out that – to take an example close to our hearts – that if you write bisexual the next word might be community.  BiNet USA are calling on them to change this peculiar policy, and we warmly echo that here.