I’m taking a step outside my usual area of interest to talk about something interesting we’ve come across online. Only a few weeks ago, HMRC forced Google to pay £130 million in back taxes, a move criticised as too lenient given the vast profits the giant have raked in. Have the Tories been getting too cosy with Google? Some astute observers noticed oddities in Google’s Autocorrect results when terms including “conservatives are” and “tories are” were inputted. There were no Autocorrect suggestions. On the opposite end of the spectrum, typing “labour are” nets you results including “labour are a joke” and “finished”. The term “lib dems are” gets “lib dems are finished”. More alarmingly, perhaps, are the results for the medical profession. Typing in “doctors are” shows up “doctors are useless” “greedy” “stupid” and “aren’t helping me”, and “junior doctors are” paints them as “greedy”. One would think the Junior Doctor strike would be first and foremost on the list of Autocomplete terms, but this is not the case. Is this blatant censorship resulting from the internet giant’s influence in Downing street, or does it result from the way Autocorrect predictions are produced. The predictions are supposed to reflect the popularity of search terms, though offensive or inappropriate content is often removed. Could it be that the top suggestions for “tories are” and “conservatives are” were too offensive to be included? It’s easy to believe, considering the allegations made regarding Cameron’s pig…friendliness. But it seems like too simple an answer. I can’t believe that nobody is writing horrible things about Labour and the Lib Dems online. Surely Google would have a way of excluding the offensive/inappropriate terms, yet still include the most searched for other terms. It’s at times like these I would love a time machine to go back and see how the Autocorrect results have really changed. Yes, that would be an appropriate use of a time machine. Not going back and witnessing the great moments in history, or exploring prehistoric times, but seeing whether Autocomplete results are consistent with the current day.

Check out the gallery below for some examples of Autocorrect suggestions. Conspiracy or not? Active censorship? Let me know what you think. It’s all a little bit too convenient for my liking…

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