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Censorship Google

Seven Words You Can't Say On Google Instant 257

Posted by timothy
from the cockney-slang-works-fine dept.
theodp writes "Back in 1972, Georgle Carlin gave us the Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television. Thirty-eight years later, Valleywag reports on The Definitive List of Words Google Thinks Are Naughty. You've probably noticed how the new Google Instant tries to guess what you're searching for while you type — unless it thinks your search is dirty, in which case you'll be forced to actually press ENTER to see your results. Leave it to the enterprising folks at 2600 to compile an exhaustive list of words and phrases Google Instant won't auto-search for."
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Seven Words You Can't Say On Google Instant

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  • by Darri (948351) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @05:12AM (#33732154) Homepage
    Guess I'll discard the "always have to press ENTER" bug report.
    • by SimonInOz (579741) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @07:48AM (#33732792)

      Some years ago, I wrote an Internet chat system for a major Australian bank (which bank? No comment). Ok, innovative enough at the time, but not too exciting.

      But here's the interesting bit - they sent me a list of words they considered offensive. I had to write a special scanner to handle this - the most challenging part being dick. I was supposed to reject "dick", but accept "dick smith" [which is a major Australia techie shop, equivalent to Tandy or Radio Shack, perhaps] .

      So anyway, I was left in possession of a list of words banks don't like. Maybe I should publish it.

  • Dear Puritans (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MRe_nl (306212) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @05:18AM (#33732178)

    Please stop trying to make everybody a victim of your own personal frustrations.
    It's not our fault you can't get laid.

    • Re: Dear Puritans (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @06:02AM (#33732380)

      Why does everyone assume that Puritans never got any?

      "On many questions and specially in view of the marriage bed, the Puritans were the indulgent party, ... they were much more Chestertonian than their adversaries [the Roman Catholics]. The idea that a Puritan was a repressed and repressive person would have astonished Sir Thomas More and Luther about equally."

      C. S. Lewis (1969). Selected Literary Essays. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 052107441X. Page 116–117

      As long as they kept it in their pants until marriage, sex was considered a Gift From God.

      Seriously... RTFHB

      • by MRe_nl (306212) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @06:10AM (#33732412)

        Puritans are less repressed and repressive than Roman Catholics.
        This is your endorsement? Hahahahahaha.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @06:12AM (#33732422)

        Why does everyone assume that Puritans never got any?

        It's a fact. They are pure and abstinent, just like their parents, and their parents before them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        As long as they kept it in their pants until marriage, sex was considered a Gift From God.

        I bet if you asked the Puritan's wives, you'd get a different story.

        Anyway, C.S. Lewis is not known for truth-telling so much as comforting fairy tales, and yes I'm referring to his non-fiction essays.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LordLimecat (1103839)
          I can tell you havent read very much of his work, as you wouldnt classify it primarily as "tales" or "truth telling". He dealt heavily in reasoning and logic in many of his books; while he did delve into theology on several occasions, you dont look at a book like "The Screwtape Letters" (or "Screwtape Proposes a Toast") and say "oh, thats a fairy tale" because it instantly brands you as someone who doesnt understand metaphor, allegory, and other similarly difficult literary devices.

          I would also point ou
      • by radtea (464814)

        Why does everyone assume that Puritans never got any?

        Because they hated any public display of sexuality or any expression of sexuality outside of church-sanctioned marriage.

        While it is true that within marriage they were a lusty lot, their rabid insistence that everyone else play by their rules meant that many people assume they were sexually frustrated themselves, which they probably would have been had not they generally married relatively young.

        Also, because God for some unaccountable reason left the germ theory of disease out of the Bible, childbirth was

    • A few years ago I came across a site that people could put photos up on. The photos were rated either 'Pruitans' or 'Everyone Else'.
    • I don't see this as being a concession to Puritans. If I'm looking for sextants, I have to type "sex" first. If that autocompleted, I would certainly not want to see those results while I was typing. It's one thing to show results that aren't necessarily relevant while I'm typing, it's another for those to be "adult" in nature. What if I'm searching while at work? Or what if it's my kids doing a search?

      This could be as simple as adding a setting that let's you check a box to let you have porn show up in you

  • by MountainMan101 (714389) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @05:23AM (#33732190)

    I just love the endless amusement of typing "Is it wrong..." into google and seeing the list (to sleep with my dog/brother/mother).

    Well done Google.

    • I know entering "Obama is " brings up some entertaining results, but here's a nice (perhaps unfortunate if you're at work) effect - When I type "Bush is " in the search bar, without pressing anything, the first search result is:

      Bush is back! - Sex News, Sex Talk - Salon.com
      Dec 11, 2008 ... Not in the White House. But thanks to the recession, women are skipping the Brazilian and finally growing a little hair down there.

    • by hedwards (940851)
      That's just because the bible doesn't include a command line interface.
  • I'm surprised. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stimpleton (732392) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @05:27AM (#33732210)
    I read the list. I was expecting words that usually mean something everyday but have broadened to include potential offensive material. Amateur for example.

    What surprises me is the list includes words where the definition would have to be known, and the person consciously wants to find the subject matter. a2m for example.

    But its broader. A few choice ones on the list: fecal(legitmate medical/anotomical usage), lesBian, and finally, redtube gets the censor treatment.

    I like the comment next to "cucold" - this one dates back to 1250, but it dies here.

    And google has the gaul to climb on a soap box about censorship, the great wall filters of Australia etc.
    • Re:I'm surprised. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Necroloth (1512791) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @05:32AM (#33732244)
      is it censorship when they still allow you to search the terms?
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        is it censorship when they still allow you to search the terms?

        Yes, in some cases - FTFA:

        However, even when your request isn't blacklisted, you're not getting the SAME results that you would get by hitting return. Entering "murder" into the search bar gets you suggestions of mostly band names. It's only after you hit return that you can learn the other sinister meaning of the word.

        • Re:I'm surprised. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by delinear (991444) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @07:03AM (#33732624)
          But the point GP was making is, if you want the full list you just have to hit enter. Effectively you just have to do what you would have had to do a couple of weeks ago before the new service launched. If we're already so accustomed to using live search that the gargantuan effort of having to hit enter to see results which some people might find offensive (and let's face it, the whole reasoning behind this is to prevent the even bigger public outcry we would see when little Jimmy starts typing his search for "cuneiform" for his school history project and risks going blind three letters in) is considered "censorship", then we probably have bigger things to worry about. Either that or someone with an agenda - a competitor or someone trying to sell clicks with censorship horror stories - is trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.
        • Re:I'm surprised. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Stile 65 (722451) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @07:06AM (#33732636) Homepage Journal

          I'm pretty sure this is a feature, not censorship.

          Imagine being at work and searching for something like "white power cord" or something. Now, yes, you could go to Google Shopping to search for it, or turn off Instant if you're going to be searching for things like that, but most people won't, and do you really want your company seeing you search for "white power?"

          As an example, I'm going to be raising some chickens in a while so I was looking up "how to test for salmonella." The instant search suggestion when I typed the "s" in "salmonella" was "STDs." I'd rather not be seen searching for *that* at work.

          It just makes sense that Google would avoid doing things that'll trip up your company's web filters if you're searching for innocuous things that temporarily turn less innocuous due to Google's own features and default settings.

          • What do you have against black power cords, racist?

        • Re:I'm surprised. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by fbjon (692006) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @07:53AM (#33732818) Homepage Journal
          How difficult is "hitting return to get full results"? Stop with the censorship bandwagon already, it's embarrassing when there is actual censorship going on in the world. And no, it's not a matter of varying degrees of it, this is barely even a metaphor for censorship.
        • So your claiming that censorship is defined as; any search engine interface that uses more than the absolute minimum number of keystrokes?
      • Re:I'm surprised. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by V!NCENT (1105021) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @07:18AM (#33732670)

        it's basicaly a feature; What if you had to check something for school about different sexualities but before you finnished typing you get a list of all kinds of gay porn shit. Great succes when somebody else might be watching...

        That said you can still just hit the fucking Enter button and search it -_-'

        • by arth1 (260657)

          VINCENT (1105021) wrote:

          it's basicaly a feature; What if you had to check something for school about different sexualities but before you finnished typing you get a list of all kinds of gay porn shit.

          Um, isn't "gay porn shit" perfectly valid in the context of "different sexualities"?

          To me, it looks like you're fine with hiding what you are prejudiced against (else, why bring up the word "gay" at all?). Which is up to you, of course, but then you have to allow for others to censor based on their prejudices.

          • What's wrong in all cases is enforcing one's own convictions and morals on others. People have a right to live by their own standards, not what well-meaning politicians or trailer trash voters want for them. Let everybody have their own moral standards and prejudices, but don't ever let them enforce them on others.

            If this finger-wagging was meant to apply to Google's filter, then your definition of "enforce" is not one with which I am currently familiar.

          • by V!NCENT (1105021)

            Errrrr.... I have nothing against anyone people that are sexualy attracted to their own sex, it's just that it's not realy socialy accepted, which can lead to possibly unwanted situations and assumptions.

            You have no idea how hard it is to get rid of that. Believe me...

      • by arth1 (260657)

        Yes, it is still censorship when you hide something. This is very much analogous to the situation a few decades ago where some public libraries removed the card from the customer accessible index for "Lady Chatterley's Lover", and only lent it out if customers asked for it directly. That was deemed to be censorship even though the book was technically available.
        What Google does is almost identical -- you can only get the results by asking directly, where you can browse everything else.

        The big difference i

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          What Google does is almost identical -- you can only get the results by asking directly, where you can browse everything else.

          Oh come on. You know better than that. Think about what you're saying. What google does is nothing at all like a library hiding a book. Are you saying that before this "instant search" feature, Google was hiding the entire internet? And comparing google to a public library is just silly.

      • is it censorship when they still allow you to search the terms?

        No, it is not. And this is why this article is informative (Google Instant != Google Search results), but that's all.

        Then Google (and any other legally operating search engine) needs to NOT display some results is some countries - and I am not talking China here. As example, in Germany there is a list of results (maybe even of search terms?), which you are not allow to show. This is censorship, but censorship by the government.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And google has the gaul to climb on a soap box about censorship, the great wall filters of Australia etc.

      Grammar Nazi says: That's gall not gaul. Gauls are French people (technically some Germans are Gauls as well, but I digress).

      It's really not censorship, as they still allow you full access the content. They are just making sure that you have a chance to save yourself if you type 'goat selection' and miss the space :)

      • by V!NCENT (1105021)

        stimpleton has got a human spell checker slave... great succes...

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Grammar Nazi says: That's gall not gaul. Gauls are French people

        Maybe he actually meant "google has the French people to climb on a soap box"? Or he didn't want anyone to think he was referring to outgrowths on the surface of lifeforms caused by invasion by other lifeforms [wikipedia.org]. Gall also means wrath, bile, or a certain color of yellow. Or maybe he was referring to A programming library designed to aid development of applications that use genetic algorithms. [sourceforge.net]

        Off course, he mite sim plea bee relaying two mach on

    • If I were to guess (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @05:48AM (#33732328)

      They just took terms that have a high probability of having something many would consider offensive showing up in the first few results. You have to remember they haven't disabled the searches, just disabled the instant search (which I hate anyhow). So you can type in the search press enter and Google will search as normal. What it won't do is instantly search.

      That might be why there are some normally benign terms there, because when searched for they come up with potentially offensive links.

      I'm ok with this idea. They aren't stopping the terms from being searched for, they aren't reordering their search. They are just trying to make sure people don't accidentally see things that would get them mad at Google. While I'm a proponent of the idea that people should stop being so whiny and easily offended, that doesn't mean Google shouldn't be pragmatic about it. This doesn't really affect anything in the big scheme of things.

      • It's a hack. Here they have this idea they can't use to its fullest extent because of societal "norms". Rather than putting out a dumb system that's predictable, they're having to put in all these exceptions.

        Right at the top of the list they have "are".

        Yes, as in "Are we there yet?" and "You are going to hurt yourself."

        Here's the entry from TFA:

        are (this is a VERY interesting one. if you stick "are" after the following words, the blacklist kicks in: jews, christians, catholics born-again christians, evan

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by bn557 (183935)

          I'm guessing they have some algorithm that has blacklisted terms that the highest use patterns involve offensive material searches, regardless of the non offensive implications. Because they don't control their result ordering, these terms could provide offensive material in the future (or rather, are more likely to).

          All said and done, put me down in the `meh, doesn't bother me` camp though. I still hit enter with this due to the momentary lag between when I finish typing and the results showing up (slow

    • Re:I'm surprised. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by zwei2stein (782480) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @05:49AM (#33732332) Homepage

      It is not protection from naughty stuff, it is protection from embarassing searches.

      Say you are googling "Amateur Astronomy" with someone looking over your shoulder - do they really need to see "Amateur As" partial result (lots of porn links on that page)?

      They don't, neither do you. If you really want that result, press enter.

      Pretty much all of those terms lead to porn results on first page of searches (lots of seo power...).

      • Re:I'm surprised. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by pitchpipe (708843) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @06:15AM (#33732432)

        Say you are googling "Amateur Astronomy" with someone looking over your shoulder - do they really need to see "Amateur As" partial result (lots of porn links on that page)?

        I actually played around with this. If you pause, whatever google instant is suggesting that you search for becomes part of your browser history. So yeah, that could be a problem, especially at work.

      • Imagine now doing a search for "amateur pole vaulting"...
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Hope Thelps (322083)

        It is not protection from naughty stuff, it is protection from embarassing searches.

        Yes, but not embarrasing for you, embarrasing for Google. Google doesn't want to have suggested to your children that they should be searching for "amateur ass". Google doesn't want to have suggested to your children that they search for "God is evil" in case some group is outraged at them for doing so - nobody is likely to have typed in "god is evi" if they weren't going there anyway, it's not going to embarrase you at work (or if it was then you wouldn't be typing it), but it's not something Google wants

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anubis IV (1279820)
      There's no censorship here. Merely hiding potentially unsavory searches from people that aren't looking for them. You can still reach everything you want to about amateur porn in Gaul, for instance, while I make fun of people that have the gall to come down on one side of a topic without apparently understanding it completely.
    • And google has the gaul to climb on a soap box about censorship...

      What is the connection between the people who lived in Western Europe and were conquered by Julius Caesar have to do with Goolge climbing on a soap box? Or did you mean "gall" http://www.thefreedictionary.com/gall [thefreedictionary.com], third entry " Outrageous insolence; effrontery"?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by geekoid (135745)

      Making someone actual hit enter is not censorship.

  • Fair enough (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nick Fel (1320709) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @05:29AM (#33732220)
    Most people aren't going to want to accidentally see the contents of that list when they use Google at work, or with their kids. We've hit enter for years and survived, I think we can still manage it.
  • Nipples (Score:5, Funny)

    by Inda (580031) <slash.20.inda@spamgourmet.com> on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @05:32AM (#33732242) Journal
    I giggled like a little schoolgirl when I read that.

    We, the family, were talking about nipples last Sunday at dinner.

    Our guinea pig, Jason, died a few weeks back. We were never sure if he was a boy guinea pig or a girl guinea pig. My daughter, 10, said he must have been a girl as he had nipples. We all smiled and corrected her - boys have nipples too.

    Nipples. I'm still giggling like a girl (with nipples).
  • Hot grits (Score:5, Funny)

    by antifoidulus (807088) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @05:39AM (#33732274) Homepage Journal
    Just checked "portman petrified hot grits" isn't blocked so obviously the censors are falling down on the job!
    • by hedwards (940851)
      Yeah, they don't block beaver, however if you prepend it with "shaved " that is indeed blocked. Similar for donkey requiring something extra to get it blocked.

      Looks like they did at least put some effort into most of the terms to lessen the chances of doing that to something that's genuinely innocuous.
  • Filter on results (Score:5, Interesting)

    by golden age villain (1607173) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @05:47AM (#33732322)
    Could it be that this system blacklists the words based on the content to be displayed and not based on the input itself?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Hope Thelps (322083)

      Could it be that this system blacklists the words based on the content to be displayed and not based on the input itself?

      No. For example "amateur[anything]" is blocked. So "amateur", "amateur theatrics", "amateur night", "amateurish", "amateur diy" etc etc are all blocked. It's implausible to suppose that no combination produces acceptable search results. Also "[anything] is evil" is blocked. Thid is definitely a blacklist of search term patters, not results.

      • Re:Filter on results (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Haeleth (414428) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @06:21AM (#33732464) Journal

        Blocking "amateur" is interesting. The first page of Google results I get for the word doesn't include anything remotely NSFW -- but the related searches list is almost entirely related to amateur porn. I wonder if that's what's triggering the block.

        I certainly can't believe that Google would go with a static blacklist this complicated.

  • by bistromath007 (1253428) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @05:47AM (#33732324)
    This has nothing to do with censorship. They just don't want people searching "assignment" to have their screen jammed full of porn before you finish typing.
    • I read this story years ago, probably in Electronics Australia. A science museum set up a computer terminal so that people could type on it and play with the buttons. Unfortunately school children left the screen covered with naughty words so a clever admin created a blacklist of words which could not be typed. Unfortunately there had to be a way to display and edit the blacklist...

  • I don't know which is more sad: Google thinking "lolita" needs to be protected or that the people keeping the list only know it as a reference to a film and never mention the book.

    I also don't know which is more sad: that the Spanish word for "black" is considered so offensive just because it might be used by a racist or that a word for rooster is considered offensive just because it could be used sexually.

    I just noticed, BTW, that even turning SafeSearch off doesn't prevent this particular Instant filter.

    A

    • by digitig (1056110)

      I don't know which is more sad: Google thinking "lolita" needs to be protected or that the people keeping the list only know it as a reference to a film and never mention the book.

      This is /. -- we all know it as a Haskell natural language processing engine.

    • by N0Man74 (1620447)

      I think that somewhere above, it's been mentioned at least once or a hundred times, that this appears to be a feature to prevent accidental incorrect auto-completion guesses that might be not be appropriate or desired at work, school, with family, or other environments.

      Despite the fact that the examples you used have legitimate and non-offensive usages doesn't change the fact that they could also bring up undesirable search results as well. Harping on the fact that certain words are non-offensive in certai

  • browsed it briefly. Learnt a few new words.

    Kind of dumb that "new porNographers" was listed there, as "porN" is already mentioned on its own.

    Curious that "belgium" is deemed not offensive at all :)

  • by ampathee (682788)

    I wonder whether it's actually a manually maintained blacklist, or whether the decision to block the search is made after (automatically) examining the results generated by it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sam_handelman (519767)
      I doubt the second - very processor intensive.

      However, I propose a third option, that the blacklist is automatically maintained.

      That is, they classify web-pages: offensive, Y/N? And then their index automatically tags terms strongly associated with offensive web-pages, which are automatically blacklisted. This is how you'd get "white power" (present on many offensive webpages), but not "black power" (present mainly in scholarly articles, let's be blunt). This is why you'd get "futanari"
  • Don't you mean Return, bitch?

  • Sometimes I get sick of the Slashdot knee-jerk mentality about anything that is remotely connected to free speech or censorship.

    First, many, many people surf the net with safe search OFF. This does not mean that you want porn showing up on every search, it doesn't even mean you want to get porn at all. You may simply want to make your own mind up about your search results. This works completely fine when you have to press enter to get your search results, because you can make a reasonably sound judgement ab

    • I completely agree... I can't fathom why people get so worked up about having to hit the Enter key as a confirmation that you really want to see possibly offensive results.

      Hell, on some sites, they want me to enter my date of birth to make sure I'm over 18 before I see certain content (not that anyone ever puts in their real date, regardless of their age).

  • If you just type dyk, it still autocompletes dykes on bikes

    Also darkr and leather roo still yield the expected completions.

    And fann, ...

  • And you just have to post a link to the useless blog post instead of the actual list at the more respected source, 2600 [2600.com].

  • There's "fuck" and "motherfucker". So really it's only six and a half.

  • It's quite possible I might want to research "child processes". I'd hate to have stuff show up at the "p".

  • by BCW2 (168187)
    How about being able to turn off Google Instant?
    Of course there is a button under preferences to do that but it doesn't work. That way Google can still try to force their paid for crap on people. Having a false feature is a fraudulent act. Wonder when they get sued?
    • by geekoid (135745)

      I just checked, and when I choose off, it stops working. I am using Chrome on XP.

      You DO know it's about the results, not the auto population of the entry field, right?

    • How about being able to turn off Google Instant?

      Like being able to disable Instant with a drop-down menu to the right of the search box? Oh, that already exists.

  • Who cares? This isn't censorship. They just don't want to get a bunch of complaints from your grandmother when she searches for "penitence" and after hunt-and-pecking "p-e-n-i" gets something that upsets her. You can still search for whatever you want, they just aren't going to automatically guess you mean something dirty because it might offend you greatly if you don't, which would be a PR nightmare. The converse is not true. It doesn't offend anybody (except maybe people who are rabidly-irrational about a

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