Passing It On: Google and the Secret List

I just want to draw your attention to an issue that I hope will snowball: what’s being called the “Google No Fly List”. Numerous bloggers have found that the Google Suggest function – which auto-fills your searches with a number of possible phrases – excludes search terms relating to sex. Even if you’ve set your preferences to “do not filter results.” The tool doesn’t have a problem with suggesting white supremacy sites.

Read all about it at:
Google’s Mechanical Prude – Eros Blog
Sex Offender: Google – Goodvibes
Google’s No-Fly List: How did we get on it… – Tony Comstock
Google’s No-Fly List – Amber Rhea


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I can’t tell if I’m on the list or not because it seems that this suggestion tool is only available to US-based searchers.

Interestingly, a commenter noted that since registering their site with Google Analytics, their traffic and listings dropped significantly. Once removed, things improved. This echoes my own experience with Google’s toolbox. Ms Naughty went to the back of the index soon after I verified the site with Google. It also decided that the term “porn for women” wasn’t relevant for my site, the Googlebot stubbornly refusing to find the term on my pages. Although something’s happened recently to make it grudgingly acknowledge the phrase which is something, at least.

It’s very easy to indulge in conspiracy theories when this kind of thing happens. I’m doing my best not to; hopefully there’ll be a reasonable explanation offered. Perhaps this issue can make enough of a storm in the blogosphere for Google to actually reply.

I suspect any response will be the usual thing: porn sites are spammy, there’s too many of them, we’re just trying to make search better, etc etc. Although it doesn’t really account for why some people’s names don’t give a result. I’m watching to see what happens next.

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