By now most Google users are likely familiar with Google Instant, the tweak to their search that allows for constant changes to search results with each letter typed. As a NY Times article pointed out, though, some terms related to “violence, hate and pornography” are filtered out, so they don’t come up immediately with Google Instant. Instead of producing results as you type, the search results go blank if you enter these types of words and you’re asked to press Enter in order to continue.
Elizabeth on Sex in the Public Square found, for example, that words such as “nude” and “naked” go blank whereas “sex” and “sexuality” turn up with plenty of results in Instant.
I tried “vulva” – when I got to the “vu”, results for the vuvuzela came up. Once I added that “l” and got to “vul”, it went blank.
Okay, what about “vagina”, I wondered. “V” gets us Verizon Wireless, “Va” gets us Value City Furniture and “Vag” takes us to tons of search results for Vagisil (a yeast infection cream) and Monistat. What?!?! What about a plain old vagina diagram or information about vaginal health? Since when does a yeast cream have a corner on the Vag market? Once I added an “i” so my search term looked like “Vagi”, Google Instant went blank, but added grayed out letters “sil” to my search term to suggest, I suppose, that I might like the search term “vagisil.”
I kept going.
“Vagin” = blank.
“Vagina” = blank.
Even if one were to just plain old Google the word “vagina,” it’s not like a lot of scary websites come up – Wiki is first, Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong site is 2nd, Discovery Health comes up 3rd and there are various other health related topics below that. So why hide the vagina search results in Google Instant? Vaginas aren’t pornographic. They’re body parts. Google Instant seems to like other body part names such as elbow, head and eye ball. It even produces search terms for uterus, ovary, and ovaries – but type in the word “testicle” and it shoots blanks. (I know, bad pun, but it does indeed go blank.)
Well, even weirder is this: it drew blanks the first 5 or 6 times I typed in “testicle”. And then later on I tried again, and I actually got Google Instant results for “testicle.” I tried again and it went blank. So Google seems to be running a little hot and cold on the testicle front for the moment.