Google Instant: Good for Some Searches, Not for Others

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.—Seems as if Google is taking a page out of the Steve Jobs handbook. Determined to speed up searches to the point of real-time results that seem to anticipate what the searcher is searching for before they even know themselves, some Google Instant keywords are being all but censored. Those would be the NSFW terms, or the Slutskys, as the Register now calls them.

In Instant, which was launched Wednesday, results appear as one is typing, which means that different results will appear as each word, or even syllable, of a word or phrase is entered. But try to enter a Slutsky, and the results remain blank.

It’s easy to test. Just go to Google search and enter, oh, say, the word “ass.” Google thinks you might be looking for an “assist’ or an “assassin” or maybe even the “Associated Press.” But if you use your space bar after entering the first three letters only, a blank screen presents itself. For results based on “ass,” one must hit enter and then they will appear.

In other words, the Slutskys must be searched for manually. Instant wants no part of them, thank you very much.

Somewhat humorously, the omissions were found out by a reporter named, that's right, Slutsky. The poor woman queried Google about it during a press conference Wednesday, asking why her name generated a blank screen. With a real life Slutsky staring them in the face, the company had to own up.

"We care a lot about child safety and these kinds of issues, so we had to think a lot about auto-complete and how that works as you're getting the results," Google product manager Johanna Wright told the Register. “So we apply the same policies that we always have, whereby we filter for violence, hate, and pornography. As a result, if you're typing for something that may not be appropriate for certain people to see, you won't see results until you press enter."

But back to the reporter, she had another, less egocentric, reason for asking about her name. As the paper notes, “The reporter also pointed out in blacklisting ‘Slutsky,’ Google isn't displaying real-time results for her great uncle, Russian mathematical economist Eugen Slutsky, known for his eponymous economic model the Slutsky Equation.”

Apparently, sadly, that’s just tough s**t.