Google’s About Turn

Understanding ‘bisexual’ quickly ceases to be a problem

In recent years there’s been a battle fought between bi activists and search behemoth Google over the site’s definitions of rude words. The auto-suggest function (which when you type Manchester helpfully suggests you might be looking for Manchester United or Manchester City or Manchester Airport) didn’t make any suggestions when you typed bisexual.  A long campaign later and now it is treated like other words.

Then came the launch of new Google’s child-friendly search tool Kiddle.  For the first couple of days searching on bisexual produced a kindly message that “You have entered an LGBT related search query” and “while Kiddle has nothing against the LGBT community, it’s hard to guarantee the safety of all the search results for such queries” explaining that Kiddle couldn’t be sure you would find appropriate things and so you should talk to a grown-up about your question instead.

Remarkably quickly the tide of complaints that young people trying to understand these things may not safely be able to ask the adults in their lives, and a set of vetted information replaced the message with information from organisations like Parents & Friends of Lesbians & Gays and the Trevor Project. After the previous long fight: thanks for responding sensibly, quickly, Google.