For those not aware of the goings on of the US Presidential race you may have missed that allegations had been made that Google was manipulating their ‘Search’ to help a specific candidate. The allegations centred around the search autocomplete feature not suggesting results that were clearly popular search terms.
If true that would actually be a big deal, if we look at Google’s Autocomplete documentation Google outlines that the autosuggestions are based on:
- The terms you’re typing.
- What other people are searching for, including trending searches Trending. Trending searches are popular stories in your area that change throughout the day. Trending searches aren’t related to your search history.
- Relevant searches you’ve done in the past (if you’re signed into your Google Account and have Web & App Activity turned on).
Based on these rules you would assume that if a particular search was popular then it would more than likely be surfaced as an autocomplete option. Long story short, it turns out there were more factors at play, and in a rare move Google actually provided more detail into their mysterious search algorithms.
The autocomplete algorithm is designed to avoid completing a search for a person’s name with terms that are offensive or disparaging. We made this change a while ago following feedback that Autocomplete too often predicted offensive, hurtful or inappropriate queries about people. This filter operates according to the same rules no matter who the person is
While some people may not agree with this decision, it is at least being equally applied to any searched name, so the allegations of manipulating search seem a little tin foil hatty to us.
With our own Federal election well under way, you may nave noticed that you favourite negative search term wasn’t been suggested for your least favourite candidates, hopefully, this explains why.