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Google changes its algorithm for 'lesbian'


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Before 18th July this year, if you were to type the word ‘lesbian’ into Google you would be presented with pornographic content. After changes to its search algorithm that is no longer the case - even if safe search is not activated by the user.

Showing porn when you searched "lesbian" was understandably seen as unecessarily sexualising lesbians and being degrading by many within the LGBTQ+ community. Now, typing in lesbian to the world’s most popular search engine will offer up results including top news stories and Wikipedia. 

Screenshot: George Simister

The main driving force behind the movement to change the search results was the Twitter account SEO lesbienne, which promoted ways Google should change its search engine optimisation for the term.

French website Numerama also looked into the issue, examining how porn sites understood people’s searches and why Google had not changed these results itself.

Screenshot: George Simister

This is not Google’s first issue with the word lesbian. To celebrate Pride Month in June the search engine had a banner that appeared whenever something LGBT+ related was searched. The banner was to remember the Stonewall riots. However, after a few days it stopped appearing for lesbian-related search terms.

“I find that these results are terrible, there is no doubt about it. We are aware that there are problems like this, in many languages ​​and different researches,” Pandu Nayak, Google's Vice president of Search Engine Quality, said at the time. He added that Google never “tries to solve individual requests, because it is often just the tip of the iceberg.”

The changes Google has made are definitely for the better. In an ever-expanding internet, it is issues like this Google will have to keep an eye on.

Lead Image Credit: FirmBee via Pixabay

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