Google and the Thought Police

The other-worldliness seems to grow on a daily basis. Yesterday’s heroes are villains today. A word meant one thing when I was in college, now that word means something quite different. Yes I know it’s just a sign that I passed my seventieth birthday, but this is my experience. Other worldly.

Try this: using Google search, enter ‘war on merit’ as a search string. It’s a search term I used myself when researching my previous blog post: “War on Merit”. Google responds with page after page of links to articles about Nazi war medals. Note that there is a non-Nazi version of this medal, awarded by the state of Brunswick in WW1. Google however, is careful to step around that and link to Nazi medals, making it very clear what they think of “war on merit”.

This is not a one-off with Google. Try also searching in turn, separately, for images of black men, white men, straight couples, and gay couples. Your searches for black men and gay couples will be played straight. Google returns row after row of appropriate, happy smiling images that match your search term.

However, in the results for ‘white men’, the 1st row contains images of one woman and four black men. The further results contain a mixed bag of races and genders, and hostile tag lines: “white men are bad”, “white men killed more American”, and “3 white men charged with killing Black”. Google’s engineers even manage to resurrect Tawanna Brawley with the tagline “biracial woman claims attack by four white”.

In the Google results for ‘straight couples’ starting with the left hand images in the first two rows you see rainbow flags and then more hostile tag lines: “Alaska Airlines apologizes to Gay”, “Gay man and straight woman can form a…”, and “Bisexuality: ‘A straight couple raped…”.

OK, maybe you’re not sold yet. These things happen, right? No, they don’t. Try the same searches on Bing or Lycos. On the other search engines you get normal results; not twisted, angry commentaries on what your search terms say about your values.

See the table below for a summary of my experiment. Green is good, red is bad.



Bing & Lycos
war on merit

white men

black men

straight couple

gay couple

The Bottom Line
The engineers in Google’s search division have joined the Thought Police, right out of George Orwell’s ‘1984’. Google knows when we search for terms that indicate libertarian leanings, and responds by telling us we are fascist. Google responds to searches for images of straight couples and white men, by telling us that straight couples and white men are bad and rapists.

Bing and Lycos don’t do that. Maybe we should stop using Google.

The searches on Google, Bing, and Lycos that I describe above were recorded, and are posted on YouTube here.