Google is known for taking a hard stance against censorship, at least when it's opposing China
and not Australia
, for example, yet a curious 'bug' which affected its suggestion box got some people questioning just how far Google would go to stay out of sensitive issues and well within the comfort of political correctness. A while ago, people found that if typing "Islam is" into the search box on Google, the suggestion box would come up empty, as opposed to any number of other well-known religions. This lead to a bit of an uproar, but the issue has been fixed.
Google Suggest is a very useful feature saving time by offering search results and potentially the chance to refine a query without having to load the search results page. It works for a surprising number of queries and has gotten smarter in time
. However, people found that while typing "Christianity is" would result in a number of suggestions, many of which were, to say the least, critical of the religion, typing the same query for Islam would turn out blank.
Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Scientology and Atheism weren't spared the treatment either, so most people found it at least intriguing that Islam would be the only exception. Conspiracy theorists were quick to jump to conclusions, but Google was quick to counter claiming that it was only a bug. “This is a bug and we’re working to fix it as quickly as we can,” Google told
Search Engine Land.
Previous track record would give credence to its claim, Google has stayed true to its search results even when they were controversial. Searching for "Jew," for example, leads to quite a few anti-Semitic results so much so that Google is running an ad in the search results page explaining its stance on "offensive content." The search results though are untouched.
The same was true when a racist image of the US First Lady Michelle Obama was on top of Google Image search results. It explained that it was against the image, but that it would not remove it from the search results. Finally, censorship is the main (claimed) reason behind its likely move out of the China market. In any case, the bug is now fixed and the "Islam is" query gets the same offensive suggestions just like anyone else.