Pharyngula

Google is being sensitive

This is weird: if you go to the Google page and start typing in search phrases, it helpfully tries to offer suggests…sometimes. There are some odd restrictions going on behind the scenes.

In the search field type “Christianity is” and you will see recommendations of “bullsh*t, not a religion, a lie, false, a cult, wrong, fake, dying, Jewish, and not a religion t-shirt.”

In the search field type “Hinduism is” and you will see recommendations of “monotheistic, false, polytheistic, the majority religion of, the oldest religion, not a religion, fake, most commonly found, characterized by, and wrong.”

In the search field type “Buddhism is” and you will see recommendations of “not a religion, wrong, not what you think, bullsh*t, polytheistic, a religion, false, based on what concepts, the best religion, and atheism.”

In the search field type “Judaism is” and you will see recommendations of “false, not a race, not a religion, a race, a religion of the book, not Jewish, a gutter religion, monotheistic, a cult, and a religion.”

Try typing “Atheism is” and you will see recommendations of “a religion, dead, not a religion, wrong, the new fundamentalism, growing, a non-prophet organization, so senseless, illogical, a religion supreme court.” Clearly they are not holding back on the Atheists.

Now, let’s try Islam. Type in “Islam is” and you will see…

Absolutely nothing. That’s correct. Google makes no recommendations based on searches of “Islam Is.”

Why is Google blocking search recommendations for “Islam is?”

Good question.

Comments

  1. #1 Paul Burnett
    January 5, 2010

    If you type “Islam is” and hit “I’m Feeling Lucky” you get:

    “This Site is temporarily shut down for non- payment. Please have Pete Seda contact Datta Groover”

  2. #2 negentropyeater
    January 5, 2010

    PZ wondered if a petition would work to get Seed to fix the broken comment registration system.

    Let’s try !

    Now come on Pharyngulites, let’s get THIS petition moving. I’ve set the target to 2000 signatures.

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/fix-scienceblogs-registration

    Help spread the petition.

    Squidmaster has been notified by email.

  3. #3 Glen Davidson
    January 5, 2010

    Another company bravely in favor of complete free speech wherever no credible threats are made.

    I guess it’s true that if they don’t mind doing the censors’ job in China, they’ll certainly do so elsewhere.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  4. #4 Comstock
    January 5, 2010

    Same deal with Spanish. “Islam es” gets you nothing.

  5. #5 Sven DiMilo
    January 5, 2010

    Jihad, baby.

  6. #6 The Science Pundit
    January 5, 2010

    That observation is

  7. #7 Volcanon
    January 5, 2010

    Do you really need to ask?

    They don’t want a group of crazy people to show up at their offices and suicide bomb it.

    They definitely should be fighting for free speech, but I do understand their desire to self sensor in the interest of not being bombed.

  8. #8 tsg
    January 5, 2010

    Bing, on the other hand, comes up with some suggestions: “the light”, “evil”, “the light baby doll” (er, what?), “a lie”, “of the devil”.

  9. #9 aratina cage
    January 5, 2010

    Ah, but try “Allah is “.

  10. #10 Jim
    January 5, 2010

    Hehe I tried “Google is”

    -skynet
    -watching you

    -the devil

  11. #11 JackC
    January 5, 2010

    Islam is lame?

    Islam is was not was?

    Cute, but not exciting.

    JC

  12. #12 FrankO
    January 5, 2010

    Not a problem from a UK computer. ‘Islam is’ generates 90 millions hits. Am I missing something here?!

  13. #13 stptrck75
    January 5, 2010

    I’m guessing Google doesn’t want to be targeted for jihad.

    Faced with pissing of Muslims or just shutting up, I probably would keep quiet too. I don’t really want to die, or have to worry about my family’s safety, any time soon.

  14. #14 JackC
    January 5, 2010

    tsg: I did “Christianity is” on Bing and it’s first result suggestion was:

    Christianity islam

    I still would have added the “e” at the end.

    [the second result was "Christianity is false" which I really DO like better... it is becoming harder and harder to resist the pull of Bing]

    JC

  15. #15 Abdul Alhazred
    January 5, 2010

    They are not censoring search results, just turning off the annoying suggestion feature that I normally disable anyway.

    Do a search on “Islam is evil” and you’ll get plenty who agree with that.

  16. #16 Andreas Johansson
    January 5, 2010

    Interestingly, “Islam was” turns up suggestions, eg. “Islam was spread by the sword”.

    @FrankO: You’re missing what the thread is about – not Ghits, but suggestions to complete a search phrase beginning “Islam is …”.

  17. #17 JackC
    January 5, 2010

    Abdul – not search results – “help” text that, for me and apparently others, descends below your search query AS YOU TYPE – not after you hit return.

    JC

  18. #18 Paul Burnett
    January 5, 2010

    News of the Weird: “Islam is the new religion in rebellious Mexican state Chiapas” – “More and more Mayan and Tzotzil people in the Mexican state Chiapas are becoming Muslims.” – continues at http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/islam-new-religion-rebellious-mexican-state-chiapas

  19. #19 NDWolfwood5268
    January 5, 2010

    tsg – There was a little a little fiasco a while back where a talking baby doll and a Nintendo DS game were supposedly saying ‘Islam is the light’ when they were supposed to be just doing baby speak. Rather amusing, a bunch of Christians got all furious about it.

    Both were made by Japan so I doubt there was actual intent there; Japan isn’t too Islamic last I heard, at the very least not Nintendo.

  20. #20 Blind Squirrel FCD
    January 5, 2010

    “Allah is” brings up, among other suggestions, “not god.”

    BS

  21. #21 kausik.datta
    January 5, 2010

    I don’t know.

    There appears to be several misunderstandings here. First, following the procedure referred to by PZ, Google apparently does not spare themselves, too. A search for ‘Google is’ brings up ‘the devil’, ‘watching us’, ‘making us stupid’ and so forth.

    Secondly, when you type ‘Christianity is’ (without a space after ‘is’), one of the options that come up is ‘Christianity Islam Judaism’. I think that is the issue. The search algorithm probably conflates the beginning ‘Is’ of Islam with the verb ‘is’. And therefore, ‘Islam is’ doesn’t bring up anything.

    Comstock at #4.

    Same deal with Spanish. “Islam es” gets you nothing.

    That is because you are presumably using an English language Google site. If you go to the Spanish Google site ‘Google.es’ and try ‘Islam es’, an option comes up with more than 200000 hits, ‘islam es lo mismo que musulman’ (= “Islam is the same as Muslim”, whatever that means).

    OR, there is indeed a conspiracy at work here – to suppress anti-Islamic voice of any kind.

  22. #22 JackC
    January 5, 2010

    I guess it all just comes down to …. it depends on what the meaning of is is.

    [dons flameproof suit and runs behind a large rock....]

    JC

  23. #23 tsg
    January 5, 2010

    @NDWolfwood5268

    Ah, like when the Po Teletubby speaking Mandarin was claimed to be saying bad things in English. It’s so good to see that the search for things to be offended by isn’t dead.

  24. #24 newton.phil
    January 5, 2010

    Has anyone tried Mohammed and Google images!?

  25. #25 dkbuck
    January 5, 2010

    They’re not being that sensitive. “Muslim is” produces “wrong, a race, islam, bullshit, a cult, a religion, not a race, the same as islam”

  26. #26 NDWolfwood5268
    January 5, 2010

    tsg

    Didn’t hear about Po lol, I’ll have to youtube that when I get off work. Also, I heard somewhere that a guy tried to rob a bank dressed as one of those guys. Fun stuff lol.

  27. #27 ivankaramazov
    January 5, 2010

    I live in the us and i typed “islam is” into google, and got 3 million hits, so i don’t understand what the problem is

  28. #28 tariqata
    January 5, 2010

    I wonder if the problem has more to do with the search term used? I just entered “Muslim is” and got “wrong”, “bullshit”, “a race”, and “a cult”.

    I’m surprised that similar results don’t come up for “Islam is”, but I think it’s at least possible that the word “Muslim” is used more in negative English-language statements about Islam (and whatever I think about the truth of religion in general, I do think all of the statements I quoted are intended to be negative).

  29. #29 amphiox
    January 5, 2010

    Money talks.

    It speaks in the language of the coward.

  30. #30 kausik.datta
    January 5, 2010

    Storm in a tea-cup?

  31. #31 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    January 5, 2010

    OK, here’s a weird one. Try “Sinhalese is” in the search box. As soon as you type the is, all suggestions vanish. Doesn’t work with Tamil…

    Same thing with bahasa Indonesia–the language of Indonesia and Malaysia.

    Also “Karen language is”…

    Countries
    Works with “Spanish Sahara is”

    Interesting “Uigur is” still gives suggestions.

    Hmm.

  32. #32 CJO
    January 5, 2010

    How much is could an islam lam, if an islam could lam is?

  33. #33 Lars
    January 5, 2010

    Either Google isn’t all bad, or their self protection program is very, very sloppy.

    “Muhammad is” gives the following suggestions (among others):

    Muhammad is a false prophet
    Muhammad is satan
    Muhammad is the antichrist
    Muhammad is dead
    Muhammad is in hell

    Guess some muslims are grinding their teeth right now.

  34. #35 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawkwRovfXNWgZNpfrHkh7733IAvPRAaNt34
    January 5, 2010

    @kausik.datta:

    Secondly, when you type ‘Christianity is’ (without a space after ‘is’), one of the options that come up is ‘Christianity Islam Judaism’. I think that is the issue. The search algorithm probably conflates the beginning ‘Is’ of Islam with the verb ‘is’. And therefore, ‘Islam is’ doesn’t bring up anything.

    Falsification: in that case ‘Islam in’ should likewise not bring up any suggestions, but it does.

    –Barbarian

  35. #36 Lars
    January 5, 2010

    …but the suggestions at http://google.topleveldomain differ from the suggestions in the Google-bar in my Firefox. Weird.

  36. #37 JackC
    January 5, 2010

    CJO – Thanks for that. It improved my day.

    JC

  37. #38 SteveM
    January 5, 2010

    I live in the us and i typed “islam is” into google, and got 3 million hits, so i don’t understand what the problem is

    The problem is not the hits that come up after hitting the ENTER key. It is the “command completion” suggestions that appear below the search box as you type.

  38. #39 Abdul Alhazred
    January 5, 2010

    I lurk at Free Republic (right wing site). Every so often there’s a screaming meemee “Google LIBBERUL bias” story.

    What will they say to this one? :)

  39. #40 Matthew G
    January 5, 2010

    Disappointing, but at the end of thee day it is Google’s site, they can do what they want.
    However, I would take it as an indication that Google doesn’t believe that it can explain big words such as ‘statistical’ and ‘algorithm’ to the sort of idiots who would take Google suggestions as an affront to their religion

  40. #41 toth
    January 5, 2010

    Sounds like this isn’t a universal issue, so I suspect it’s just a quirk somewhere, not an intentional exception on the part of Google.

    Of course, I love Google, so I may be somewhat biased.

  41. #42 black-wolf72
    January 5, 2010

    I’ve tried this in German, and I do indeed get the same conspicuous result. I tried several variations with other verbs and other religions, and it’s always the same outcome:
    Google suggests only neutral or positive phrases for “Islam …” and all sorts for any other religion or non-religion. Putting a space after “is” makes no difference.

    There is definitely some self-censorship going on.
    I understand this. Google is not a news outlet, and they could be shut down by entire muslim nations if they offend the religion of “peace through conformity”.

  42. #43 Daniel de Rauglaudre
    January 5, 2010

    Perhaps it means that islam is nothing?

  43. #44 BdN
    January 5, 2010

    In French, if you type “Islam est” (Islam is), the only suggestion is “islam est une secte” (Islam is a sect). But if you add the definite article in front of it, you get “dangerous”, “religion for Blacks”, “the true religion”, [...] “the religion of science”…

  44. #45 tsg
    January 5, 2010

    From here:

    We try to filter out suggestions that include pornographic terms, dirty words, and hate and violence terms. If you encounter a term that should not be suggested, please let us know by posting in the Google Web Search Help Forum.

  45. #46 MGG
    January 5, 2010

    I think tariqata @#28 is on the right track. If I understand correctly, the search suggestions are based on what other people type search for. Likely people are using some other term when they’re looking for confirmation of a bias. Suggestions for “Islam” and “Islam ” appear to be about seeking information.

  46. #47 aratina cage
    January 5, 2010

    We try to filter out suggestions that include pornographic terms, dirty words, and hate and violence terms.

    They missed “nazism is ” and “holocaust is “.

  47. #48 Endor
    January 5, 2010

    “It’s so good to see that the search for things to be offended by isn’t dead.”

    LOL. This line is like comedy gold. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

  48. #49 BdN
    January 5, 2010

    Gosh! “PZ Myers is” has no suggestion neither…

  49. #50 BdN
    January 5, 2010

    Oh… and “biology is not a science” and “religion is like paul rudd”. So much fun !

  50. #51 William
    January 5, 2010

    @kausik.datta:

    Secondly, when you type ‘Christianity is’ (without a space after ‘is’), one of the options that come up is ‘Christianity Islam Judaism’. I think that is the issue. The search algorithm probably conflates the beginning ‘Is’ of Islam with the verb ‘is’. And therefore, ‘Islam is’ doesn’t bring up anything.

    Falsification: in that case ‘Islam in’ should likewise not bring up any suggestions, but it does.

    –Barbarian

    And typing ‘Israel is’ yields suggestions…
    It’s not a glitch.

  51. #52 William
    January 5, 2010

    Nothing negative for ‘Jesus is’, unless homeboy is derogatory.

  52. #53 DJSutton
    January 5, 2010

    I tried Christianity Ch…, and got results, I tried Judaism ju, and got results, so it’s not repetition of the initial letters. I also tried muslims are, and got no suggestions, but the same was true when I tried christians are, or jews are.

  53. #54 https://me.yahoo.com/a/CCjbceA8lNMDJw.MoZm1Z6LTu5BjgbR4ucvHFhM-#211b9
    January 5, 2010

    have results:
    island is
    Christianity is not

    no result as well:
    Islam is not

    loophole? (has results)
    is Islam

    Hmmm…

  54. #55 minimalist
    January 5, 2010

    Type “can a human” in that line and see what happens.

    It’s not censored. It’s just that… the top suggestions are, er, well…

  55. #56 mothwentbad
    January 5, 2010

    That is odd.

  56. #57 Brownian, OM
    January 5, 2010

    Google Canada offers suggestions following “Islam” until one types an “is” and then they disappear. Perhaps Islam googlers all write in E-Prime?

  57. #58 BdN
    January 5, 2010

    “islamists are”= no suggestion
    “muslims are”= no suggestion
    “muslim are”= first suggestion is “terrorist”
    “qur’an is”= no suggestion
    “quran is”= suggestions include “false”, “wrong”, “corrupted” and bullshit…

  58. #59 joeyess
    January 5, 2010

    From Google:

    Islam is…….

    is a non-compromising mono-culture…
    Islam is and has always been political…..
    Islam is the dominant religion of the third world……
    Islam is a dangerous religion…..

    and on and on.

    What am I missing? Google seems to have a plethora of definitions.

    There is a site called “Islam is” that is temporarily down, but there were many links to be found.

    I didn’t find that Google was blocking anything.

  59. #60 tariqata
    January 5, 2010

    @58: this is another reason why I think this must really depend on what other people are searching for. And other people are weird, apparently.

    There are also no suggestions for “christians are” (or “jews are”, “buddhists are”, and “hindus are”, but for “christian are”, there is one suggestion: “christian are like pumpkins”.

  60. #61 se-rat-o-SAWR-us
    January 5, 2010

    type “Christianity is” …

    That’s missing the elephant in the room. Just type “c” and you get:

    craigslist
    cnn
    costco
    comcast
    chase
    etc.

    Ditto for “a” (amazon, aol, americal airlines), “b” (best buy, bank of america, bed bath and beyond), “g” (gmail, google maps, google earth), and so on.

    I recently called a family member on his new google phone number. I didn’t get through, but left a voice message. He received an email of my transcribed voice message processed by voice recognition. This is what’s next: automatically listening to all google phone messages and possibly conversations, detecting commercially relevant key words, and targeting ads at you based on these key words.

  61. #62 mmelliott01
    January 5, 2010

    I just want to point out that among the top 10 suggestions for completion of “George Bush is” are monkey, lizard and alien.

    Just what we need: a new way to fritter away an entire afternoon when one should be working.

  62. #63 Seamyst
    January 5, 2010

    I tried it with various other religions, and amusingly enough, “Pantheism is” came up with “sexed up atheism”.

  63. #64 tsg
    January 5, 2010

    @#60 & 61

    Also from here:

    As you type, Google Suggest communicates with Google and comes back with the suggestions we show. If you’re signed in to your Google Account and have Web History enabled, suggestions are drawn from searches you’ve done, searches done by users all over the world, sites in our search index, and ads in our advertising network. If you’re not signed in to your Google Account, no history-based suggestions are displayed. Data you send to Google is protected by Google’s privacy policy.

  64. #65 Orakio
    January 5, 2010

    @tariqata #60:

    Confirmed, Alan One. Or confirmed at least as far as you can throw the journalist who wrote the story, anyway.

  65. #66 murtagh
    January 5, 2010

    Like joeyess at #59, I’m not seeing the problem. It suggests loads of stuff.

  66. #67 eddie
    January 5, 2010

    I’m wondering what Mark Chu Carroll is thinking about this.

  67. #68 kausik.datta
    January 5, 2010

    William @51: I stand corrected. But it is intriguing. What could possibly trigger this weird behaviour?

    joeyess @#59: As others before me have pointed out, the question is not if Google is showing search results with the term “Islam is”. (Google is.) The question is why there are no automatic suggestions – before you submit the query – if the search term is “Islam is”.

  68. #69 murtagh
    January 5, 2010

    Interestingly, there’s only one ‘Sponsored Link’ though:

    Minnesota Muslims
    Events, news, pictures of and from
    Muslims in Minnesota. Send a story!

  69. #70 Flex
    January 5, 2010

    Hmm,

    Replacing the second ‘s’ in ‘Islam is’ reveals that NINE letters of the alphabet don’t result in any suggestions. Those letters are:

    A,E,F,I,O,S,W,X,Y

    Throwing them into an anagram generator yields 240 results, including:

    A Wise Foxy
    Aw sexy of I

    and the ominous

    Waxy Foes I

    Clearly a deep message there.

    This black helicopter conspiracy moment was brought to you by the letters ‘s’ and ‘z’.

  70. #71 Giant Blue Anteater
    January 5, 2010

    You guys totally forgot about Moses! Whenever I type his name in the Google search field, no suggestions are offered.

  71. #72 tristan.emerson
    January 5, 2010

    I tried a few others and found similar results. The following also return no results:

    atheists are
    an atheist is
    christians are
    blacks are
    jews are

    However, if you type in “muslim is” you do get results. Perhaps Google merely has an anti-pigeonholing filter set up.

  72. #73 madbull
    January 5, 2010

    While we are at this game, try Richard Dawkins is

  73. #74 murtagh
    January 5, 2010

    Oh, I see the peculiarity now. That is weird.

    Even “Zoroastrianism is” gets several suggestions, beginning with “Zoroastrian islam” but “Islam is” gets nothing.

  74. #75 Miki Z
    January 5, 2010

    As someone else noted “PZ Myers is” gets no suggestions (although “PZ” suggests “PZ Myers”), but “Ben Stein is…” “an idiot”, “a douche”, “a moron”, “(is)rael”, “a tool”.

    “is is” brings up a number of suggestions about Islam and Israel (separately).

  75. #76 tsg
    January 5, 2010

    “discordianism is” also yields no suggestions.

  76. #77 tsg
    January 5, 2010

    “unitarianism is” gives “unitarianism islam” as a suggestion, but “unitarianism is ” gives nothing.

  77. #78 Miki Z
    January 5, 2010

    Perhaps it depends on which localization of Google is being used as well. In Japanese, “Islam” turns up “customs”, “banking”, “pork”, “women”, “diet”, “Christmas”, “alcohol”, “names” (also in Japanese).

  78. #79 KCGreg
    January 5, 2010

    I came up with “Octopus is a fish.” Which means nothing, but maybe something. “Pharyngula is” pulls no suggestions either. “PZ Myers is” pulls nothing. “Muslim is” pulls up some stuff.
    Really, though, why don’t we focus more on why Atheism is a religion? We should really start a weekly meeting to address this. Probably meet sometime everybody can get together. Since we’re atheists I’m thinking Sunday morning, we’re all free and television sucks at that time. We should have a master of ceremonies to help guide the discussion or just address concerns among us and tell us the right path to…huh?

  79. #80 kev_s
    January 5, 2010

    … and adding insult to injury … if you try ‘science is ‘ Google suggests ‘science islam’ in the list!

  80. #81 negentropyeater
    January 5, 2010

    tariqata #60,

    this is another reason why I think this must really depend on what other people are searching for. And other people are weird, apparently.

    quite so.

    When you type :

    I want to eat

    one of the first suggestions this weird Google Suggest comes up with is :

    I want to eat his Children

  81. #82 Felinaeus
    January 5, 2010

    However, if you try “Is Islam”… you do get some suggestions, so someone wasn’t to thorough with their cleaning of phrases.

  82. #83 tsg
    January 5, 2010

    Maybe if enough people search for “Islam is purple monkey dishwasher” we can get it in the list…

  83. #84 BdN
    January 5, 2010

    bacon is = good for me
    peanut butter is = good for you
    mugs are = us
    google suggest is = not working

  84. #85 MadScientist
    January 5, 2010

    So, how about a list of suggestions for “islam is” … ?

    Are you sure google is the problem rather than allah-la-la-la protecting his cult and his pets?

  85. #86 BdN
    January 5, 2010

    @negentropyeater

    Yeah. If you type “I am sex” it autocompletes with “ually attracted to my daughter”…

  86. #87 felixthecat
    January 5, 2010

    No suggestions here either. But if this is an act of cowardi…erm…cultural sensitivity on the part of Google, why not censor also the results for “Muslim” and “Mohammed”?

  87. #88 negentropyeater
    January 5, 2010

    I doubt it’s a censorship issue.

    Islam with other verbs gives some of the following suggestions :

    Islam has … bloody borders
    Islam does … not mean peace
    does … Islam make … sense
    Islam was … spread by the sword

  88. #89 joeyess
    January 5, 2010

    @kausik.datta: I see. before the query is launched. Now I get it. Yes. There seems to be something amiss.

    Not sure what, but surely there would be common words that would follow “Islam is” as a suggestion when typing in the query.

    That is strange.

  89. #90 'Tis Himself, OM
    January 5, 2010

    negentropyeater,

    I signed your petition and my name and comment don’t appear anywhere.

  90. #91 pixelfish
    January 5, 2010

    Count me in as somebody who immediately set out testing the barriers to get islam related prompts….and had no problems. “Muslim is” dumps out a list of prompts, as other folks have noted. “Islam” by itself has a list.

    It’s possible that “Islam is” triggers some kind of code issue because the word “is” is common and looks like you could accidentally be repeating the word “Islam” or that it would be redundant. (The word “is” being contained in “Islam.”) That’s about the only thing I can think of. (I put a space after typing “Christianity christ” and lo, all the search results disappeared.)

  91. #92 pixelfish
    January 5, 2010

    On the other hand, my redundancy theory doesn’t work on the phrase “sexism is”….that still yields results.

  92. #93 vanharris
    January 5, 2010

    Guys, come on, give Google a break. They respect Islam, because it’s the Religion of Peace, & some Muslims demanded respect.

    When we’ve all cow-towed to them, we’ll all get peace, won’t we?

    Gals, know your place & shut up, eh. Islam is the religion of peace, eh.

  93. #94 SteveM
    January 5, 2010

    It’s possible that “Islam is” triggers some kind of code issue because the word “is” is common and looks like you could accidentally be repeating the word “Islam”

    Nope. “isis is” produces a list of suggestions, so it is not a “stuttering filter” acting up. This seems to be a deliberate, specific filter to not make any suggestions about “Islam is …”.

  94. #95 tsg
    January 5, 2010

    This seems to be a deliberate, specific filter to not make any suggestions about “Islam is …”.

    Actually, based on other attempts noted above, it just seems to be a peculiarity in the algorithm.

  95. #96 tsig0
    January 5, 2010

    Well I get

    way of life

    a cult

    false

    wrong
    ect.

  96. #97 negentropyeater
    January 5, 2010

    ‘Tis #90,

    so far 23 have signed the petition, and most names and comments seem to appear. There are 4 anonymous.

    Please try again.

    Please sign this petition to fix the broken comment registration system
    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/fix-scienceblogs-registration

  97. #98 UkkotheIrish
    January 5, 2010

    Yup, Google. Nefarious sorts. China. Now Islam. Funny thing is, when you type ‘Google is..’ you get ‘Google is Israel’ and ‘Google is Skynet’. Hilarious.

  98. #99 Moggie
    January 5, 2010

    Try ‘sergey brin is’, ‘larry page is’ and ‘steve jobs is’. Seems people just aren’t searching for negative opinions about Google’s founders, whereas they’re very interested in Jobs’s doucheitude.

    I’m pleased to see that the top suggestion for ‘how is’ is, you guessed it, ‘… babby formed’.

  99. #100 David Marjanovi?
    January 5, 2010

    Typing that stuff into the search field of my IE8, all without a space at the end, produces the following:

    christianity is:
    christianity islam

    hinduism is:
    no results

    buddhism is:
    buddhism israel

    judaism is:
    no results

    atheism is:
    atheism is a lie
    atheism is the new fundamentalism

    islam is:
    no results

    allah is:
    [10 results, all in German ("great" and "great and mighty" are the first two) except for the 6th, which is in Turkish]

    google is:
    [10 results, all in German except for the 3rd, which is "google is your friend", and the 4th, which isn't language-specific ("google israel"). The first is "google ist dein freund". The last is "google ist böse" ( = is evil). The 2nd and the 8th declare Google a miscarriage, the 5th has "my friend" instead of "your", the 6th declares Google "stupid" and the 7th "gay". No Skynet among them, alas.]

    islam was:
    [6 results, all in German, the 2nd and the last to do with washing.]

    muslim is:
    muslim islam

    muhammad is:
    muhammad islam
    muhammad ismail suk

    mohammed is:
    mohammed islam
    mohammed issa
    mohammed ismael
    mohammed ismail

    george bush is:
    no results

    islam in:
    [10 results, all in German, all with a country name, except for the last, which is "in the media"]

    pz myers is:
    no results

    can a human:
    can a human get a dog pregnant

    pantheism is:
    no results

    richard dawkins is:
    richard dawkins islam

    zoroastrianism is:
    no results

    ben stein is:
    no results

    discordianism is:
    no results

    unitarianism is:
    no results

    science is:
    science is a verb now
    science is interesting and if you dont agree
    science is fiction
    science is interesting
    science islam
    science issn [probably the ISSN number of Science...]

    i want to eat:
    no results

    is islam:
    no results

    bacon is:
    bacon is good for me
    bacon is good for me remix

    peanut butter is:
    no results

    mugs are:
    no results

    google suggest is:
    no results

    i am sex:
    no results

    islam has:
    islamhasser [Islam hater in German]
    islam hasi [Turkish]

    islam does:
    no results

    does islam:
    no results

    I’ve often noticed strange behavior from the Google Suggestions®. (“buddhism israel”? Give me a break.) It obviously depends on your language settings, your previous search behavior, the moon phases on Jupiter, and the divine caprices of Google.

    In French, if you type “Islam est” (Islam is), the only suggestion is “islam est une secte” (Islam is a sect).

    Which rather means “a cult”.

    Nothing negative for ‘Jesus is’, unless homeboy is derogatory.

    Bubba is my homeboy.

  100. #101 steve
    January 5, 2010

    @ 73

    Richard Dawkins is…

    an idiot
    a douche
    wrong
    going to hell
    hot
    a jerk
    my hero
    science a religion
    a fool
    a moron

    if you throw a t on there, you get

    Richard Dawkins is…

    the devil
    the antichrist

  101. #102 David Marjanovi?
    January 5, 2010

    Try ‘sergey brin is’, ‘larry page is’ and ‘steve jobs is’. Seems people just aren’t searching for negative opinions about Google’s founders, whereas they’re very interested in Jobs’s doucheitude.

    :-D

    No, the Google founders just aren’t famous. I didn’t know their names, thanks for telling me them.

  102. #103 Paul Burnett
    January 5, 2010

    “kausik.datta” (#21) wrote: “The search algorithm probably conflates the beginning ‘Is’ of Islam with the verb ‘is’. And therefore, ‘Islam is’ doesn’t bring up anything.

    That does not explain why “Wahhabi is” also doesn’t up anything. Neither does “Wahhibism is ” (note the space).

    (And if you don’t know who the Wahhabists are / Wahhibism is, you should learn.)

  103. #104 SteveM
    January 5, 2010

    re tsg @95:
    Actually, based on other attempts noted above, it just seems to be a peculiarity in the algorithm.

    I don’t mean to be argumentative, but I don’t really see how the previous experiments disprove my assertion. Which example specifically do you mean?

    The fact that some of the more obscure “ is” turn up no suggestions might just mean no one has ever entered such a search term before. Google does not “make up” suggestions, but merely lists the most common of previous search phrases. I find it very hard to believe that no one has ever searched for “Islam is evil” (for example) or some of the other phrases that come up for the other religions in the original posting.

  104. #105 Joe the Plumber
    January 5, 2010

    Islam must ..
    be destroyed
    die
    go
    be stopped
    end

    So it seems Google prefers actions over meek religulous qualifications. Did not one of the Christian far-out harpies publicly call to arms against Islam and recommended that the US Army invade all those countries whose citizen adhere to Mohammed instead of baby jebus, to devoutly pave the way for Gawd the Lawd?

  105. #106 raven
    January 5, 2010

    Did not one of the Christian far-out harpies publicly call to arms against Islam and recommended that the US Army invade all those countries…

    Rod Parsley. Hard to imagine what a war between 2.1 billion xians and 1.4 billion moslems would look like.

    Probably go nuclear in the first 5 minutes.

    I don’t think Parsley could round up all 2.1 billion xians though. The Europeans, Oceanics, Africans, and Asians might decide to stay home and watch it on TV instead.

  106. #107 SCypher
    January 5, 2010

    Am I the only one that thought “Atheism is a non-prophet organization” was funny?

  107. #108 a.human.ape
    January 5, 2010

    Why is Google blocking search recommendations for “Islam is?”

    There’s a lesson here for Christians. If they want their idiotic death cult to be respected, they are going to have to start flying airplanes into buildings and they need to be cutting people’s heads off.

  108. #109 tariqata
    January 5, 2010

    @SteveM, # 104:

    I also agree that it seems unlikely that no one has ever searched for something along the lines of “Islam is evil” – but I also think it equally unlikely that if Google is filtering its suggestion algorithm to avoid giving offense to Muslims, it wouldn’t apply the same filter to the word “Muslim”, or to searches such as “Islam has”.

  109. #110 SteveM
    January 5, 2010

    re 105:

    “Islam must …” suggestions

    This why I think that this is a specific and deliberate filter. They are not trying to figure out what are positive or negative search phrases, they are just imposing a blanket filter on “Islam is”. Possibly because they are afraid it will not be understood to be a list of common searches but the actual opinion of Google about the nature of Islam.

  110. #111 tariqata
    January 5, 2010

    @Paul Burnett, #103:

    I actually do get suggestions for “Wahhabi” and “Wahhabism”, although they tend to be more … abstract? (E.g., “Wahhabism and terrorism” rather than something along the lines of “Wahhabism is evil”.)

    And I did get a kick out of one suggestion I managed to elicit while testing out different verbs: “Islam wasabi”.

  111. #112 http://openid.yandex.ru/atzz/
    January 5, 2010

    Come on, guys! One cannot build a whole theory based on a single data point! Ignoring counter-evidence such as “allah is” or “muslim are”.

    I think that’s just a glitch. Probably a PC in a data center has died while processing the “I” wordlist of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MapReduce process for search suggestions index. It’ll fix itself in a month or two.

    Or not. Who cares?

  112. #113 Hank Fox
    January 5, 2010

    On the other hand, they nailed Scientology.

    “Scientology is … a cult, bullshit, a joke, a scam, retarded, not a religion, dangerous, fake, ridiculous, wrong.”

    Thank you, Google. Now prepare to be sued by the ghost of Elron.

  113. #114 acitta1
    January 5, 2010

    Hmmmm . . . Typing “PZ Meyers is” also comes up with no suggestions. Obviously, PZ has must have some kind of hold over Google. What is it . . . clandestine pictures of Sergey and Larry using Bing?

  114. #115 tsg
    January 5, 2010

    I don’t mean to be argumentative, but I don’t really see how the previous experiments disprove my assertion. Which example specifically do you mean?

    “discordianism is” & “unitarianism is”, for example.

    The fact that some of the more obscure ” is” turn up no suggestions might just mean no one has ever entered such a search term before. Google does not “make up” suggestions, but merely lists the most common of previous search phrases. I find it very hard to believe that no one has ever searched for “Islam is evil” (for example) or some of the other phrases that come up for the other religions in the original posting.

    Google is notoriously secretive about their algorithms which makes it difficult to speculate on what triggers a suggestion. It need not be that no one has ever searched for it. As others have pointed out, “Muslim is”, “Allah is”, etc. all return suggestions, so we can believe that they are deliberately doing it, but poorly, or that something rather more mundane is going on. The simpler explanation seems to be the latter.

  115. #116 SteveM
    January 5, 2010

    re 112:

    I think that’s just a glitch. Probably a PC in a data center has died while processing the “I” wordlist of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MapReduce process for search suggestions index. It’ll fix itself in a month or two.

    Talk about building a theory on a single data point! What about the pricipal of parsimony? Just how likely is it that a “glitch” will only fail on “Islam is” and not the many other “I* is” or “* is” search terms. The simplest answer is that “Islam is” is specifically blocked.

  116. #117 b919340@uggsrock.com
    January 5, 2010

    “muslim is” works

  117. #118 Peter G.
    January 5, 2010

    Google is…scared shitless.

  118. #119 SteveM
    January 5, 2010

    Hmmmm . . . Typing “PZ Meyers is” also comes up with no suggestions. Obviously, PZ has must have some kind of hold over Google.

    Notice that just typing “pz”, the top suggestion is “pz myers”

  119. #120 Hank Fox
    January 5, 2010

    acitta1 #114: “Typing ‘PZ Meyers is’ also comes up with no suggestions.”

    —-> Myers

  120. #121 tsg
    January 5, 2010

    As further data points, “methodism is “, “episcopalianism is “, and “presbyterianism is ” also return no suggestions.

  121. #122 T_U_T
    January 5, 2010

    What about asking google directly ? Would they lie ?

  122. #123 Dennis
    January 5, 2010

    Jen did a good article on this before the solstace..

    http://www.blaghag.com/2009/12/update-googles-religious-censorship.html

  123. #124 Steven Mading
    January 5, 2010

    Posted by: joeyess Author Profile Page | January 5, 2010 3:26 PM

    From Google:

    Islam is…….

    is a non-compromising mono-culture…
    Islam is and has always been political…..
    Islam is the dominant religion of the third world……
    Islam is a dangerous religion…..

    and on and on.

    What am I missing? Google seems to have a plethora of definitions.

    There is a site called “Islam is” that is temporarily down, but there were many links to be found.

    I didn’t find that Google was blocking anything.

    I think you hit the jackpot.
    I think that’s the answer right there where I put it in boldface.

    Imagine if someone put up a hate site filled with offensive material, and because they thought of it as “my own personal black hole of opinion”, they gave it the domain name “black-hole.com”. Now, if Google tries to stop making suggestions for that one site, the algorithm might also have the side effect of stopping suggestions for searches on the astronomy term “black hole”.

    That might be happeneing here. To stop themselves from suggesting the one single “islam-is” site, they accidentally also ended up stopping all suggestions that start with “islam is”.

    I can’t check if this is true or not, since the islam-is site is now down and the cache doesn’t have a copy of it. I have no idea what the content of it was, so I can’t test this hpyothesis. But it seems like a possibility that should be eliminated before jumping to conclusions.

  124. #125 aratina cage
    January 5, 2010

    “calvinism is ” “a condemned heresy” LOL

  125. #126 Kel, OM
    January 5, 2010

    Why are you picking on the Muslims PZ? You’re just bigoted against people of Islam. If only they had the inquisition, then you might show them the respect that you show the Catholics…

  126. #127 SteveM
    January 5, 2010

    As further data points, “methodism is “, “episcopalianism is “, and “presbyterianism is ” also return no suggestions.

    As I said, it does not seem unreasonable that those terms have not been searched for before.

  127. #128 tsg
    January 5, 2010

    As I said, it does not seem unreasonable that those terms have not been searched for before.

    On what do you base the assumption that these terms have not been searched for before but “Islam is” is unlikely not to have been?

  128. #129 negentropyeater
    January 5, 2010

    Apparently, a Google spokesperson has told Searchengineland.com :

    ?This is a bug and we?re working to fix it as quickly as we can.?

  129. #130 Joffan
    January 5, 2010

    “Fair & balanced” result:

    Islam promotes …
    islam promotes violence
    islam promotes terrorism
    islam promotes peace
    islam promotes science

  130. #131 JackC
    January 5, 2010

    SteveM – not only is it not unreasonable, but the reference pages indicate that it should also return your OWN searches. I am kind of leaning toward the possibility of StevenMading (weird….) is thinking. I can’t see this being a specific rejection algorithm based on the “Islam is” text alone.

    But some of the responses to various searches are really lighting up my evening.

    JC

  131. #132 Joffan
    January 5, 2010

    layout fail, let me do that without the blockquote:

    results for: Islam promotes
    islam promotes violence
    islam promotes terrorism
    islam promotes peace
    islam promotes science

  132. #133 http://openid.yandex.ru/atzz/
    January 5, 2010

    Re #116:

    Just how likely is it that a “glitch” will only fail on “Islam is” and not the many other “I* is” or “* is” search terms.

    That’s the power of Allah for you! :-p

    Seriously though, the probability is exactly the same as for any of about 1’000’000 English words. Single occurrence does not allow to make any judgement of probability; a decent sample is needed.

    If google is deliberately censoring the “Islam is” suggestions, do you think they are so inept as to overlook “Allah is”?

    Though, upon consideration, there is another possibility. As quoted at #45,

    If you encounter a term that should not be suggested, please let us know by posting in the Google Web Search Help Forum.

    It seems quite possible to me that someone, upon seeing some suggestions for “Islam is”, became all offended and complained, but didn’t think to check other related terms.

  133. #134 Zifnab
    January 5, 2010

    Funny enough, if you type in “agnosticism is” you only get one result entitled “why agnosticism is wrong”.

    Another word that does not bring up any results? Penis.

    I think Google is equating Islam with the penis, and if I were a terrorist, I think I know exactly what I’d be packing in my undies next time I sat down at my desk to do an internet search.

  134. #135 SteveM
    January 5, 2010

    SteveM – not only is it not unreasonable, but the reference pages indicate that it should also return your OWN searches. I am kind of leaning toward the possibility of StevenMading (weird….) is thinking. I can’t see this being a specific rejection algorithm based on the “Islam is” text alone.

    No, the fact that it is also blocking my previous searches such as, “Islam is evil” and “Islam is peace”, etc., is exactly what makes me think it is based on “Islam is” alone. It is the simplest explanation.

    As for “episcopalianism” and “methodism”, etc, no, it is not based on anything other than my own opinion, but really, how often do you see those words in the news as compared to “Islam”?

  135. #136 Happy Tentacles
    January 5, 2010

    “Islam is” . . . no respones from Google in the UK

  136. #137 tsg
    January 5, 2010

    No, the fact that it is also blocking my previous searches such as, “Islam is evil” and “Islam is peace”, etc., is exactly what makes me think it is based on “Islam is” alone. It is the simplest explanation.

    It also fails to return my searches for “christianity is purple” and “hemmingway is mandarin”, so apparently not.

    As for “episcopalianism” and “methodism”, etc, no, it is not based on anything other than my own opinion, but really, how often do you see those words in the news as compared to “Islam”?

    You do not know what the algorithm is, so you can’t make judgements about what should or should not be there and why it isn’t, especially when it is only backed up by your opinion. You don’t know.

  137. #138 SteveM
    January 5, 2010

    Also, notice that “Islam i” produces a suggestion list that is only “Islam in …”, whereas the other religions give a pretty even mix of “in” and “is” in the list. “Islam is” is clearly being specifically blocked.

  138. #139 acochetti.myopenid.com
    January 5, 2010

    Speaking of conspiracy theories, what if Google is just a front company for a bunch of evangelical Christians? They programmed Google’s search algorithms intentionally so this would happen in order to divert all the atheists on a wild goose chase typing nonsense into a text field. While all the atheists are trying to uncover Google’s deception they’re putting their plan for world domination into action.

  139. #140 tsg
    January 5, 2010

    Also, notice that “Islam i” produces a suggestion list that is only “Islam in …”, whereas the other religions give a pretty even mix of “in” and “is” in the list. “Islam is” is clearly being specifically blocked.

    It never ceases to amuse me how many people would rather go to great lengths to maintain their offense than be relieved there really wasn’t anything to be offended by. You need there to be something nefarious to be mad at.

    Color me unconvinced and unsurprised.

  140. #141 negentropyeater
    January 5, 2010

    SteveM,

    “Islam is” is clearly being specifically blocked.

    Read my comment #129.

    Google says its a bug and they’re fixing it.

  141. #142 mcrotk
    January 5, 2010

    Same exact thing happens in Google Australia, definitely not a glitch.

  142. #143 Ubi Dubium
    January 5, 2010

    “Pastafarianism is” also brought no results. Google is obviously terrified of having their headquarters pillaged.

  143. #144 SteveM
    January 5, 2010

    It never ceases to amuse me how many people would rather go to great lengths to maintain their offense than be relieved there really wasn’t anything to be offended by. You need there to be something nefarious to be mad at.

    I am not offended and I don’t see how I am going to great lengths to maintain being offended. To me it is simply an intersting little puzzle; what could be causing this result? It just seems to me the simplest explanation for this behavior is a single line of code that blocks “Islam is” suggestions.

    If anything I am accusing Google of being simplistic, not nefarious. The fact that other “offensive” phrases are not blocked is what makes me say it is only blocking “Islam is”, they are not analyzing phrases for offense but simply blocking the one that is most likely to cause offense.

    Saying that it is “just a bug” is not an explanation. What is the nature of a bug that would produce this kind of result? I can’t think of one that wouldn’t hose up alot of other suggestion results. I realize my failure of imagination is not a proof, so yes, I agree I could be wrong about the simplistic cause, but until Google explains what is going wrong, I’ll stick with my hypothesis as the simplist solution.

  144. #145 tsg
    January 5, 2010

    Same exact thing happens in Google Australia, definitely not a glitch.

    Or they’re using the exact same algorithm….

  145. #146 JackC
    January 5, 2010

    SteveM – yeah – I know – I was agreeing with you, but in light of what negentropyeater found, a bug looks more probable. And the probability of a bug hitting “Islam is” alone (well, maybe not so alone?) is …. exactly one, cause it has. Assuming of course that it IS a bug and all..

    When you said “it does not seem unreasonable that those terms have not been searched for before.” I was pointing out that – at the very least, you (and me and seemingly thousands if not hundreds of thousands of others) HAVE searched that phrase – and yet the engine does not return the suggestion.

    But … wait – “penis” returns… damn. Zifnab is right! Islam = penis! It is all so clear now.

    wait…. no it isn’t.

    JC

  146. #147 JackC
    January 5, 2010

    Equal Opportunity time – “vagina” also returns no suggestions.

    I feel as if I have descended into some pit into which I would rather not be descended.

    JC

  147. #148 Steven Mading
    January 5, 2010

    Posted by: SteveM Author Profile Page | January 5, 2010 6:47 PM

    No, the fact that it is also blocking my previous searches such as, “Islam is evil” and “Islam is peace”, etc., is exactly what makes me think it is based on “Islam is” alone. It is the simplest explanation.

    I don’t understand how you think that rules out my proffered alternate explanation that they might be actually trying to just ban suggestions about a single website that happens to be named “islam-is.com” (There was such a site. It’s been taken down), and the fact that this has the side effect of cutting off all other “islam is” suggestions is an unintended consequence of that. The behavior you describe is exactly the behavior I’d expect if that was going on.

  148. #149 Pierce R. Butler
    January 5, 2010

    “pope is” produces suggestions consistent with those above (the antichrist, attacked, a nazi, infallible…) –

    but on the way to finding that out, you discover that “pope” generates three suggestions about the Popeyes fried-chicken chain and one about the sailor man before anything to do with any of the guys in the magic chair.

  149. #150 amphiox
    January 5, 2010

    What I find fascinating is how so many of us immediately started generating hypotheses about this phenomenon, and then go and test these hypotheses, and then report our results on this thread. (And test other people’s hypotheses as they are reported)

    It’s almost like an analogy of the scientific method.

    Except we seem to be missing the proper scientific instrument (which I suppose might be some means of accessing Google’s source code) to effectively distinguish the competing theories from one another. I suppose as analogy it would be like germ theory before the microscope, or astronomy before the telescope?

    Also interesting is that only a few commenters suggested anything like asking Google what is going on (which would kind of be like praying to the creator for guidance?)

    It also reminds me of the old adage:

    One should not suspect malignity if simple incompetence will do.

    To which I can add that one likewise need not postulate incompetence when simple serendipity will do.

  150. #151 negentropyeater
    January 5, 2010

    I think Danny Sullivan nailed it :

    the “Islam is” bug is another good sign Google needs to share more on how Google suggest works.

    This was particularly well put :

    OK, I?m sure that?s not going to please any cynics out there. But I still don?t believe Google is deliberately removing that term from Google Suggest. Having covered Google since the company literally began, all I can offer you is the real explanation that I personally believe goes something like this:

    We?re kind of flaky about things at Google. We have these algorithms that you?d think should operate consistently, but they?re not perfect. So why?s that term coming and going? We don?t really know. We?d drill down into it, but we?re kind of busy building cool things with Lego. Plus, we don?t really think it?s that big of a deal. Only crazy people would think we?re really trying to manipulate people in this way, right?

    That?s a typical Google failure. No, it?s not just crazy people. It?s people who have a general mistrust of any big organization. And when you?re dealing with a story where there?s evidence of a concerted effort to suppress information, yeah, some people are going to get paranoid about how the biggest information dissemenator on the planet ? Google ? is acting in relation to that. So put away the Lego and spend some time ensuring that Google Suggest isn?t operating as if you simply throw dice each morning to decide what it will say.

  151. #152 tsg
    January 5, 2010

    I am not offended and I don’t see how I am going to great lengths to maintain being offended. To me it is simply an intersting little puzzle; what could be causing this result?

    Given the amount of information we have, just about anything.

    It just seems to me the simplest explanation for this behavior is a single line of code that blocks “Islam is” suggestions.

    Only if you dismiss with a wave of the hand, based on nothing but your opinion, the other examples that also exhibit the exact same behavior.

    If anything I am accusing Google of being simplistic, not nefarious. The fact that other “offensive” phrases are not blocked is what makes me say it is only blocking “Islam is”, they are not analyzing phrases for offense but simply blocking the one that is most likely to cause offense.

    This is based on nothing but your opinion as well, I take it.

    Saying that it is “just a bug” is not an explanation.

    Not when you so obviously want it to be something else.

    What is the nature of a bug that would produce this kind of result? I can’t think of one

    Your inability to think of one doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

    that wouldn’t hose up alot of other suggestion results.

    You’ve been given several that you’ve dismissed out of hand.

    I realize my failure of imagination is not a proof, so yes, I agree I could be wrong about the simplistic cause, but until Google explains what is going wrong, I’ll stick with my hypothesis as the simplist solution.

    That much is obvious, despite the complete lack of evidence and the fact that other, simpler solutions have been proffered.

  152. #153 SteveM
    January 5, 2010

    I don’t understand how you think that rules out my proffered alternate explanation that they might be actually trying to just ban suggestions about a single website that happens to be named “islam-is.com” (There was such a site. It’s been taken down), and the fact that this has the side effect of cutting off all other “islam is” suggestions is an unintended consequence of that. The behavior you describe is exactly the behavior I’d expect if that was going on.

    Okay, I don’t think I was ruling out your explanation. What you quoted from me is part of why I think the blocking is based solely on the phrase “Islam is”; yours is a good hypothesis for their motivation for blocking that phrase. I’m just saying that the simplest way to achieve that result is to just block “Islam is” suggestions.

  153. #154 SteveM
    January 5, 2010

    tsg,

    Fuck it, I don’t care. If you’re happy with “it’s a bug” then that’s just fine. I was just curious about the mechanism of the behavior, not so much about any possible motivations behind it.

  154. #155 tsg
    January 5, 2010

    @SteveM

    You had already decided what the mechanism was before you even started investigating and weren’t going to be convinced otherwise.

  155. #156 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    January 5, 2010

    Guys, I noted above that there are several other search phrases that also yield no suggestions. This isn’t unique to the phrase Islam is. It also affects several phrases such as “chinese are”, americans are… It’s a bug–no rhyme or reason to it.

  156. #157 lenoxuss
    January 5, 2010

    I am strongly leaning in favor of the explanation offered by Steven Mading in post 124. I just tried out typing “stormfront” (the name of a major white-supremacist forum, which is the first hit for that term). It stopped suggesting after “stormfr” (even though Stormfront is also the name of a movie studio, a string quartet, and, of course, the concept in meteorology). So it would appear that it is Google censorship, but as performed by some sort of presumed-hate-site-focused algorithm.

  157. #158 acochetti.myopenid.com
    January 5, 2010

    That?s a typical Google failure. No, it?s not just crazy people. It?s people who have a general mistrust of any big organization.

    So…crazy people. If someone is so paranoid about how Google’s search algorithm works then they can use Bing or something; apparently it doesn’t have this problem.

  158. #159 lenoxuss
    January 5, 2010

    correction; the “movie studio” I mentioned is actually a video-game company whose games are often based on movies. It is currently out of business. So, yeah, the first page for “stormfront” is largely dominated by pages relating to the hate site. Whatever.

  159. #160 SteveM
    January 5, 2010

    re 159:

    except when I type “stormfr” into Google, it does not eliminate all suggestions, it leaves the stormfront site as the only suggestion. This does not seem to fit the “bad site” filter theory.

  160. #161 tariqata
    January 5, 2010

    Hm, @159 and @160, I also get no suggestions for either “stormfr” or “stormfront”.

  161. #162 Aagrajag
    January 5, 2010

    Huh. I tried every language I know, and can confirm the results for Japanese (lots of stuff); for Chinese, the list is small (????paganism, heresy???????who founded it?), but telling, I think. Considering how censor-happy they are there, and the recent strife between the Han and the Muslim Uyghurs, it seems odd that there are just two entries, one negative, one neutral.

    Thoughts?

  162. #163 negentropyeater
    January 5, 2010

    StevM,

    If you’re happy with “it’s a bug” then that’s just fine.

    A bug in the suggestion system of the world’s largest information dissemenator is certainly not something to be happy about.

    But we can put aside the conspiration theories.

  163. #164 negentropyeater
    January 5, 2010

    SteveM,

    If you’re happy with “it’s a bug” then that’s just fine.

    A bug in the suggestion system of the world’s largest information dissemenator is certainly not something to be happy about.

    But we can put aside the conspiration theories for now.

  164. #165 marion-delgad0
    January 5, 2010

    I have to call bullshit. Can’t replicate any of your suggestions. Not Christianity is, not Judaism is, not atheism is. nope.

    The only one which worked for me with a freshly installed Firefox with no history was

    “Christianity was”

    which gave me the suggestion

    “Christianity waswas”

    Sorry, P.Z., I just don’t think you’re right. You’re letting your history corrupt your data to bash a religion that Americans are currently pretending is inherently violent and threatening, and that’s been singled out by racists like Hitchens and Harris because God is a realtor, and by Xians because remote bombing of millions of people is not violence or threatening.

  165. #166 A. Noyd
    January 5, 2010

    Did I miss it, or has no one mentioned autocompleteme?

    ~*~*~*~*~

    minimalist (#55)

    Type “can a human” in that line and see what happens.

    Wow. What in the hell are people doing to their dogs?! You should submit that to autocompleteme.

  166. #167 Andyman
    January 5, 2010

    I did evolution, creationism, intelligent design and homosexuality. I got:

    “Evolution is”:
    -wrong
    -false
    -a lie
    -a fact
    -fake
    -just a theory
    -true
    -islam
    -issues
    -a myth

    “Creationism is”:
    -absurd
    -not science
    -wrong
    -bullshit
    -true
    -retarded
    -islam
    -right
    -a joke
    -a lie

    “Intelligent Design is”:
    -not science
    -bullshit
    -science
    -not creationism
    -a scientific theory
    -it viable
    -religion
    -islam
    -not religion
    -isn’t science

    “Homosexuality is”:
    -a choice
    -wrong
    -a sin
    -not genetic
    -genetic
    -not a choice
    -issues
    -a mental illness
    -an abomination
    -natural

  167. #168 CalGeorge
    January 5, 2010

    Is this suggestion thing some kind of thought completion system for morons? I don’t get it.

  168. #169 John Morales
    January 5, 2010

    CalGeorge, nah, it’s a heuristic-based attempt to make commonly-searched terms easier to access.

  169. #170 amk.myopenid.com
    January 5, 2010

    “mohammed is” and “was” comes up with “a false prophet”, “a warlord” “white”(?) and various other things, none of which were “pedophile”.

  170. #171 SteveM
    January 5, 2010

    re 161:

    I just tried “stormfr” again, this time using firefox (IE previously); again I got the vile site as the only suggestion and not an empty list. Also tried it signed out of my gmail account and got the same result. I cannot explain why we get different results, I have never searched for “stormfr” before today.

    re negentropyeater:

    I mispoke, I meant “happy” as “satisfied”. That is, if tsg is satisfied with the explanation “it is just a bug” with no further elaboration, then it is fine with me (that he is satisfied, not that it is fine such a bug exists).

  171. #172 Bronze Dog
    January 5, 2010

    Skipping over comments.

    I’m getting tired of every search engine quirk and hiccup being reported as if it were a direct link into the psychology of its programmers.

  172. #173 amk.myopenid.com
    January 5, 2010

    A previous occurrence of autocomplete being used as evidence of politicisation, although that one was stupider. This is such a minor feature that it doesn’t really matter even if someone at Google is politicising it.

  173. #174 amk.myopenid.com
    January 5, 2010

    Wow. What in the hell are people doing to their dogs?!

    Fucking them.

    You should submit that to autocompleteme.

    See the second image.

  174. #175 tariqata
    January 5, 2010

    @171: I’ve been wondering if there’s some regional variation? It’s the only explanation I can come up with (though my results, using google.ca, seem to otherwise be about the same as what everyone else reports).

  175. #176 Hurin
    January 6, 2010

    Satanism is… No suggestions.

    I suspect this is a bug… no one is protecting the satanists, and I’m sure at least some people are googling them.

  176. #177 RagingBullwinkle
    January 6, 2010

    We live in a Christian dominated culture so it takes most of the heat.

    Truth is, nobody knows enough about Islam to make enough statements about it.

    All google does is copy pages and index them then applies a complex algorithm to rank them on the internet.

    This would all change if people talk more about Islam the way we talk about Christianity.

  177. #178 https://login.launchpad.net/+id/DhQ8xWd
    January 6, 2010

    Umm? did anyone bother to check on this?

    http://bayimg.com/EAJicAAcH

    http://bayimg.com/EAjIEAaCh

    http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=islam+is

    Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

  178. #179 DJSutton
    January 6, 2010

    The only two suggestions for ‘Deepok Chopra is’ are ‘Deepok Chopra is a fraud’ and ‘…an idiot’

  179. #180 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawl3TpOVyxxwCT5cVU3M80c_cpxoMBZmiOQ
    January 6, 2010

    So if Google is basing suggestions on the number of times people search for something, then we could try to pharyngulate google. Let’s try:

    http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Islam+is+bullshit

    Everyone click on that link :)

  180. #181 Moggie
    January 6, 2010

    I do hope this isn’t going to turn into a conspiracy theory site. I enjoy laughing with Pharyngula, not at it.

  181. #182 Cath the Canberra Cook
    January 6, 2010

    @ DK Sooton: ;-)
    Try “deepak chopra is”
    … an idiot

  182. #183 https://openid.org/cujo359
    January 6, 2010

    You can add Taoism and Confucianism to the list of religions that Google is willing to make suggestions about. This has to be a deliberate choice.

  183. #184 negentropyeater
    January 6, 2010

    This has to be a deliberate choice.

    Nope, see my comment #129.

    Google has said it’s a bug and they are working to fix it as quickly as they can.

  184. #185 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawl3TpOVyxxwCT5cVU3M80c_cpxoMBZmiOQ
    January 6, 2010

    Ray Comfort is
    Gave me some lulz

  185. #186 Moggie
    January 6, 2010

    #177:

    Truth is, nobody knows enough about Islam to make enough statements about it.

    Really? When you write “nobody”, I think you mean “nobody like me”. You seem to have assigned Muslims to the null set.

  186. #187 Paul Klinkenberg
    January 6, 2010

    Now that’s crazy! I thought the company’s key principle was “do no evil”… I guess they lost it :(

  187. #188 negentropyeater
    January 6, 2010

    Truth is, nobody knows enough about Islam to make enough statements about it.

    And you think they know enough about zoroastrianism ?

    zoroastrianism is … returns several suggestions.

    IT’S A BUG. JUST A BUG. YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT A BUG IS, OR NOT ?

  188. #189 Forbidden Snowflake
    January 6, 2010

    For lulz, try entering “why Putin is…”.

  189. #190 anastasia
    January 6, 2010

    Things are quite different with Google France!
    For example, suggestions for “le christianisme est…” (“Christianity is”) include “l’ennemi du corps (“the body’s enemy”) and “un secte qui a réussi” (“a sect that made it”).

    As for “l’islam est…” (“Islam is…”), the very first suggestion is “dangereux” or, as you may have understood, “dangerous”.

    But the suggestion you’ll really appreciate is “l’islam est… la religion de la science”, aka “the religion of science”…

  190. #191 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawl3TpOVyxxwCT5cVU3M80c_cpxoMBZmiOQ
    January 6, 2010

    More lulz.
    Entering “Der Papst ist” (The pope is) on http://www.google.de gives “the dark lord of the sith” as first suggestion.

  191. #192 LeeS_FromColumbusIN
    January 6, 2010

    Or maybe, and I will admit that I have not read all of these, the Muslim profit Muhammad is the one true profit and the I Am God (consequently also the god of the Jews and the Christians) is the one true god. Seems odd he (assuming male here) would allow the other sibling faiths to take such an unfair beating. :-)

  192. #193 negentropyeater
    January 6, 2010

    For those who want to play with several country versions at the same time, this Google Spreadsheet lets you enter the first characters of a Google search in the first cell and it shows the top suggestions in those countries and languages you define.

    (answer Yes, make a copy, you need to be logged in to open the spreadsheet)

  193. #194 Bill
    January 6, 2010

    “Falsification: in that case ‘Islam in’ should likewise not bring up any suggestions, but it does.
    –Barbarian”

    Actually, no. @kausik.datt is most likely correct. Try another word with “Is” as the first two letters. For instance, “Isabella is” vs. “Bella is”. I tried this with several words starting with “Is” followed by “is” and found similar results each time.

  194. #195 plien
    January 6, 2010

    I have much fun with this thread. Lots of nice suggestions, much LOLzzz.

    What scares me though (apart from the apparent bug in google, always thought the thing got too big, tried using bing, but daughter keeps putting the start page back to google) is the number of people that are willing to see evil in this. I’ve seen that on some other (conspiracytype) sites, but i wasn’t expecting it here.

    As i said have tried some of these myself and others than islam also gave no suggestion.
    Like Buddhism is, satanism is, etc. both in dutch and english. I DO NOT believe that anybody is protecting both buddhism, satanism and islam. (an Xtian conspiracy theorist would believe that it’s evidence for the antichrist being google ;-)

    Funny thing; (yoga/joga [dutch] yield almost the same results)”yoga is” lots of results, “joga is” gets no suggestions.

    It’s just a glitch/bug whatever, people get over yourselves!

  195. #196 devoq81
    January 6, 2010

    A very simple and wierd one is if you type:

    “I love”

    you get many auto-fill options, whereas if you search

    “I hate”

    Nothing, its a bit odd…

  196. #197 negentropyeater
    January 6, 2010

    #196

    More about Google Suggest

    We try to filter out suggestions that include pornographic terms, dirty words, and hate and violence terms.

  197. #198 Eidolon
    January 6, 2010

    I looked but I didn’t see any response by PZ to the information developed in this thread. Lots of smart people commenting. I’m with Moogie @181 – sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, ya know? Sometimes PZ has his Offensive sensor tweaked a bit too high.

  198. #199 negentropyeater
    January 6, 2010

    #195

    What scares me though (…) is the number of people that are willing to see evil in this. I’ve seen that on some other (conspiracytype) sites, but i wasn’t expecting it here.

    Mistrust of large dominant organisations is a very common cultural phenomenon…

    #198

    Sometimes PZ has his Offensive sensor tweaked a bit too high.

    PZ was careful enough not to jump to conclusions :

    Why is Google blocking search recommendations for “Islam is?”

    Good question.

  199. #200 zhu-wuneng
    January 6, 2010

    Okay, as to the idiocy about Hitchens being some kind of racist….He has championed the right of Palestinians not to be kicked out of Gaza by settlers, defended Rashid Khalidi when McCain-Palin attacked him, and constantly champions India and Indian causes. Even his support for the Iraq war, which I disagreed with, was based largely on a dislike of how Hussein acted towards his own people. Hitchens and Harris are more concerned about Islam than other religions because it’s more dangerous right now, which anyone not drowning in PC dogma is going to have to admit sooner or later. People who imply that it means Harris and Hitchens are racist, with no further evidence, are just being willfully ignorant.

  200. #201 Eidolon
    January 6, 2010

    Negen @199:
    My point is that it appears that Google does not appear to be ‘blocking’ anything intentionally with respect to Islam. I’m not an IT expert, but as plien@195 points out there does not seem to any attempt to ‘block’, but rather an unexpected event caused by the code. PZ used the term ‘why…block’ which seems like a conclusion that Google has made a decision.

  201. #202 Eidolon
    January 6, 2010

    Zhu:

    Wrong thread?

  202. #203 rlrrlrll
    January 6, 2010

    I dunno

    Type:
    Is Islam

    and you’ll get plenty suggestions.

  203. #204 negentropyeater
    January 6, 2010

    Eidolon,

    well it does appear as if Google Suggest is “blocking” search recommendations for “Islam is”.
    It so happens that said “blockage” is not intentional, but the result of a software bug (see my comment #129).

  204. #205 Michael
    January 6, 2010

    Istanbul is: 10 suggestions (constantinople is first)
    Isaiah is: 3 suggestions
    Isfahan is: 1 suggestion

    This seems to falsify kausik’s hypothesis.

  205. #206 mk
    January 6, 2010

    @negentropyeater…

    It’s clear from the title of this post and the “Good question.” comment that PZ is not part of the ‘it’s just a bug’ crowd. He is clearly suggesting that Google is proactively blocking (Blocking, not “blocking”) ‘Islam is…’ suggestions.

  206. #207 zhu-wuneng
    January 6, 2010

    Eidolon, sorry, I should have said @#165 when I posted. It’s a claim I’ve seen many times and irked me more than it should have, as it’s peripheral (at best) to the issue at hand.

  207. #208 negentropyeater
    January 6, 2010

    What’s clear to me is that he wants to find out what’s going on.

    That he is “clearly suggesting that Google is proactively blocking”, is not clear to me.

  208. #209 mattand08
    January 6, 2010

    Maybe PZ was sharing a bottle of scotch with Hitchens when he wrote this post.

    As someone else pointed out, if Google was treating Islam with kid gloves they’d be striking the Danish Mohammed cartoons from their searches.

    Seriously, folks, negentropyeater is more than likely right. It’s a bug, nothing more nothing less. Quite frankly, I think some people’s hatred/aversion/disgust with religion is clouding their critical thinking skills.

  209. #210 mk
    January 6, 2010

    PZ Myers: “Google is being sensitive.”

  210. #211 negentropyeater
    January 6, 2010

    mk,

    Again, it does appear as if “Google Suggest is being sensitive”, and PZ wants to know the reason why.

    You are assuming that PZ has already concluded that Google is being sensitive for religious reasons.

  211. #212 mattand08
    January 6, 2010

    You know what, this whole story is bullshit. PZ is wrong. It’s not a “good question”. It’s a bug that cropped up and Blair Scott at atheists.org and Alex Wilhelm at The Next Page wants there to be a conspiracy involving a major religion.

    Seriously, so what if “Islam is” doesn’t auto-generate suggestions like other religions? Is it really that important? You have to be a fucking moron to be incapable of finding Islam-offensive material on Google.

    Of all the things that religion fucks up on a regular basis and some atheists are focusing on this? Pathetic.

  212. #213 negentropyeater
    January 6, 2010

    mattand08,

    Because you don’t see the importance of having an unbiased suggestion tool on Google doesn’t mean that it isn’t important.

  213. #214 mk
    January 6, 2010

    PZ didn’t say, “it appears Google is…” He said “Google is…”

  214. #215 Steven Mading
    January 6, 2010

    What I like about this particular thread is that when faced with a conspiracy theory, the Pharyngula community’s response was to posit hypotheses about it and make attempts to test them (to the limited extent that it is possible from the position of a user with only black-box access to the software). The response was not to automatically take it on faith.

    I offered my own hypothesis above, and I don’t know if it’s right. Others have offered other hypotheses, and posted the evidence that makes them think theirs is right. The important point is that we are all in agreement that interpreting the evidence is the right way to argue it, regardless of what we’d like to be true or not.

    Some might call this the scientific method, but I just consider it basic honesty. It’s really sad that it’s not a more common approach taken in such arguments.

  215. #216 mattand08
    January 6, 2010

    Negentropyeater:

    You yourself said it was a bug. I agree with you.

    And, no, I don’t think Google, with as much pull as they have, should be biased. But seriously, Google admitted it was a mistake. They’re working to fix this. Shit happens.

    Should Google be more open about how they function? Probably. This whole post, however, was quite frankly pointless. Google fucked up and it involved religion, so people are concern trolling that Google is kid gloving Islam.

  216. #217 negentropyeater
    January 6, 2010

    This whole post, however, was quite frankly pointless.

    No : it was one amongst empty number of blogs that discussed about this. Google got wind. Google reacted and are fixing their bug (which most probably doesn’t affect only “Islam is” but many other strings of words we don’t know about).

    So it actually achieved something VERY concrete.

    And that’s good.

  217. #218 mattand08
    January 6, 2010

    Assuming the post got Google to fix the bug, then something indeed was accomplished. However, there was a stink of “Google is afraid of Islam” associated with some of the commentaries (starting with the initial story at atheists.org) that irritated me.

  218. #219 acochetti.myopenid.com
    January 6, 2010

    The problem is, what does this story have to do with Pharyngula? It’s a completely reaching topic that serves a better purpose as filling empty space than doing anything else. Is this a personal blog where whatever floats his fancy ends up or is this a blog on Science Blogs where topics pertaining to science are posted? Oh but what about computer science? Well does PZ know anything about computer science? Can he tell us anything about the search algorithms that are being used by Google? He quoted another post and left us with “good question”.

    It is an interesting question if you’re interested in how a search engine works but there is no conspiracy and there is certainly no religious angle to it.

    But I do agree with Steven Mading because despite the topic being breached and some people agreeing that a conspiracy is afoot there were still plenty of people who suspended judgment in order to test the hypothesis and there were those who challenged the default assumption in order to balance things out. So at least this thread served as an illustration of what critical thinking can achieve.

  219. #220 Pierce R. Butler
    January 6, 2010

    acochetti.myopenid.com @ # 219: Is this a personal blog where whatever floats his fancy ends up…

    Read the part at the very top of the page, just before “… from a godless liberal” – if you dare.

    Otherwise, be informed that you’ve stumbled into what may be the most active pro-atheism blog in the US.

  220. #221 Nakarti
    January 6, 2010

    As a curiosity, I tried ‘islam the’ and other ‘the’ variants.

    None have bad connotations so far except ‘hinduism the (destroyer)’ and the is expanded to theism or atheism at times
    ‘theism the’ has zero suggestions, so it may be a bug in the suggestion code that could be brought to Google’s attention.

  221. #222 acochetti.myopenid.com
    January 6, 2010

    @220

    I am perfectly aware of where I am. I haven’t just started reading Pharyngula. Unfortunately the random biological ejaculations overwhelm posts about evolution and other topics in biology.

    That being said, if Science Blogs doesn’t mind it I am not really in any position to say what PZ should and should not be posting, I just very much prefer hearing about biology because I think PZ explains it very well. I especially liked what he posted about exaptation in the development of the nervous system a month back.

  222. #223 SteveM
    January 6, 2010

    ‘theism the’ has zero suggestions, so it may be a bug in the suggestion code that could be brought to Google’s attention.

    What kind of bug? “Theatre the” produces many suggestions (including “theatre theatre”, so not adverse to repetative search phrases)

    Google says they have a filter on the suggestion function, what is so inconceivable that “Islam is” is in the filter? In my opinion, the only “bug” is in how the phrase got into the filter to begin with.

  223. #224 macdothall
    January 6, 2010

    Hey, Jainism is getting the same protection. This is bullshit. Jains have been protected for too long. :)

  224. #225 macdothall
    January 6, 2010

    Oh wait, so do shamanism, cargo cults, and neo-druidism. Wow, Google is protecting a lot of religious groups.

  225. #226 MosesZD
    January 6, 2010

    Sounds like a persecution complex to me… Because when I did the test, I didn’t get the results claimed by the hysterical victim.

  226. #227 Snorre
    January 6, 2010

    Seems the problem wasn’t so big after all (I haven’t read the whole thread, shit there’s alot of it!).
    But I’m thinking that maybe they should “protect” islam a bit!? Just think about all those poor schmucks driving around, doing the Google Streetview drivebys…

  227. #228 Carrie Poppy
    January 6, 2010

    Definitely creeped out.

  228. #229 mewletter
    January 7, 2010

    Here are a few words I tried out with.

    Sadness is – LAM

    dream is -LAM

    I laugh when I get this

    money is

    – the way

    – everything

    – not everything

  229. #230 macdothall
    January 7, 2010

    I think my favorite is still:

    Pirates are

    -the cause of global warming

    Hell yeah Pastafarians. Pastafarianism receives the same protection as Islam by the way. :)

  230. #231 sandlin.john
    January 7, 2010

    I searched “Islam should not be protected” so many times on Google that they blocked me from doing more searches.

    If that’s the way they feel, I can use Bing.

    jbs

  231. #232 Erin Johnson
    January 8, 2010

    @negentropyeater

    Seed has been working on fixing this problem since it was first reported. We have contracted the makers of Movable Type, and what was estimated to be a quick fix has, unfortunately, not been. They do think they’ve identified all the separate errors that are occurring, and are working at targeting them one by one. You should be experiencing fewer problems commenting now, and – fingers crossed – soon should have none at all.

  232. #233 therationalfool
    January 8, 2010

    joeyess, Steven Mading:

    Islam-is.com is a site that is owned by Pete Seda (from the whois database for internet domains) a.k.a Pirouz Sedaghaty, a person of Iranian origin, who co-founded a branch of the defunct Islamic charity, Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, in Ashland, OR. Seda and the Charity have been investigated for funneling funds to Chechen terrorists and tax fraud. Seda has been a fugitive (allegedly in Dubai) until 2007, when he returned to U.S. to stand trial (most recent page on the case that I could find here). Whatever it was, Islam-is.com, could not have been a hate-Islam site.

    If the search phrase is terminated with “Islam is” the top result is Islam-is site. Not so, if the search phrase is terminated ends with “good”, “evil”, whatever. Looks like Google wants us to go to this defunct site, no?

  233. #234 truth machine, OM
    January 8, 2010

    Yet another thread that demonstrates that atheism doesn’t imply rationality.

  234. #235 truth machine, OM
    January 8, 2010

    Google is…scared shitless.

    You are…stupid.

  235. #236 truth machine, OM
    January 8, 2010

    Is this a personal blog where whatever floats his fancy ends up or is this a blog on Science Blogs where topics pertaining to science are posted?

    Here’s a clue: PZ does not have some other blog elsewhere.

  236. #237 mark.c.martin59
    January 10, 2010

    oh I reckon they’re blocking search suggestions for sure.
    ‘anal sex’, ‘fellatio’, ‘cunnilingus’, ‘hooker’ etc. give no suggestions. that’s with safe search off, btw.
    islam: etymologically related to shalom -> peace, or more correctly ‘full’. islam is full of it alright:-)

  237. #238 Steven Mading
    January 12, 2010

    @therationalfool # 233:

    My primary point was that if islam-is was blocked from suggestion, then there could be a bug that also then cuts off all suggestions that begin with “islam is”. My supposition that islam-is might be blocked for being an anti-islam site is secondary to my point. This guess was based on not being able to see the site anymore. If it was blocked for any other reason my point about how blocking suggestions for one site would then block other suggestions for other sites starting with the same initial terms would still stand. If it was blocked for the opposite reason – for being a site funnelling funds to Islamic terrorist groups – that really doesn’t detract from my point.

    My primary point was that people are incorrect in claiming Google’s motives for blocking all suggestions for “islam is” was based on fear of all such responses that might be negative, when there’s a much simpler, better explanation dangling right in front of us – that being that once one single site is blocked from suggestion, as islam-is is, that would mean that all sites starting with the same search terms as that name will get blocked too as an accidental side-effect.

    Accusing google of blocking all search suggestions on a particular topic is a larger accusation than accusing them of just blocking search suggestions for one single individual site.

  238. #239 jonphillip
    January 13, 2010

    As a previous commenter mentioned, there are plenty of negative suggested search queries for “Mohammed is” as well as an absence of search queries for things like “Americans are”.

    Changing the specific article from “Islam is” to “Islam was” will yield good and bad results. Also, changing it to “Islam will” yields a plethora of negative smears.

    I think the real question here is: Why are we taking Google Autocomplete seriously? How exactly do these results give any reliable reflection of Google as a company?
    Answer: They probably don’t. This whole “controversy” is ridiculous.

  239. #240 mwiggin2
    February 19, 2010

    Sorry for the late comment. I just now stumbled upon your blog. Apparently Google has since fixed the problem. I just typed in “islam is” and autocomplete gave me the expected completions–the same as with any other religion. Do you know at what point they rectified this situation?

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