Google afraid of Islamic-based terrorism?

I noticed this somewhat humorous, somewhat depressing post over at The Jawa Report. I think most of us are aware that, when using a modern browser, Google will give you the most common searches that start with the same letters of what you’ve typed so far. However, some people have noticed some peculiar behavior depending on your search terms. What happens if you start your search with “Christianity is”?


Now it is very important to understand that this isn’t what Google thinks about Christianity. This is simply a list of the most common searchers that start with “Christianity is”. This holds true for almost every religion. You can try “Judaism is” or “Hinduism is” and get a very similar list of results. But it gets interesting when you try “Islam is”.


It would seem Google is preventing the list of common searches from being displayed. One can only assume it is because they are afraid of repercussions from the text “Islam is bullshit” appearing below the Google icon.

FOXNews has picked up the story here. Now, in the past, Google has filtered out suggested searchers for somewhat obvious reasons.

The company also explains that “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.”

But this is different from filtering–the entire list has been suppressed. Is every popular search so offensive that all must be filtered? I sincerely doubt that. For now you can go to Google and test it yourself. But now that the news is out the behavior will likely change soon.

A Google spokesman explained that the weird absence of results is just a software problem: “This is in fact a bug and we’re working to fix it as quickly as we can.” But the company would not respond to requests for clarification.

I hardly think this is a credible explanation but I doubt we are going to more out of them at this point.

I’ll also note that whoever was responsible wasn’t very thorough. While “islam is” is censored, “Mohammad is” is not. So I can’t say I understand the reasoning in the first place.

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