If “gayest” shows up among search results for the word “worst” and vice versa, then that’s a reflection of how most people use the words and cannot be changed. This is Google’s response to a recent outcry over its search results.
An online petition is demanding the company to change its algorithm so that the word “gayest” stops being interpreted by the search engine as a synonym to the word “worst.”
For example, a search for the “gayest Disney movies” will take users to “eight worst movies in Disney history.” Similarly, another search for “gayest trends” will include the “10 worst men’s fashion trends of the decade” among its top results.
“By automatically including the word ‘worst’ in the presentation of search results as a synonym when the word ‘gayest’ is entered, this organization is blatantly encouraging gay shaming culture,” reads part of the petition, which has 625 signatures as of publication time.
And it goes on: “Those who actually intend the word to be pejorative have their bigotry validated when their politically incorrect search yields the results they originally set out for ... It reinforces the idea that gay shaming is acceptable. Such ignorance cannot be tolerated.”
For its part, Google told Buzfeed in a statement that they won’t be changing their search results. As they see it, if the words show up interconnected it is because people are using the words as synonyms. In other words, blame me on people’s stupidity, not us.
“Google's results, including when a search term is synonymised with another, are a reflection of content on the web and how people search,” the company is quoted as saying. “These results are determined by algorithms and we don't manually correct this process, but we are always looking at how we can improve our systems.”
Last year, the company launched a campaign called “Legalize Love,” which had as its premise to spread the word about equality within its own offices worldwide and to work “developing partnerships between companies and organizations to support grass-roots campaigns.”
In 2008, Google also published a Valentine’s Day doodle in support of gay marriage.