In response to recent questions and controversy surrounding Google’s autocomplete feature, the company published an article on its official Inside Search blog in an effort to clarify what the autocomplete feature is designed to do.
Tamar Yehoshua, Google’s VP of Product Management in the Search division, says that by autocomplete’s very nature it is designed to avoid completing searches for a person’s name with terms that may be offensive or disparaging.
“We made this change a while ago following feedback that Autocomplete too often predicted offensive, hurtful or inappropriate queries about people. This filter operates according to the same rules no matter who the person is…”
Yehoshua admits that autocomplete isn’t an exact science, and the suggestions the algorithm will generate change frequently. The timeliness of search terms is one of many factors taken into account when generating autocomplete suggestions. With that being said, it’s normal for autocomplete suggestions to change over time based on the popularity of search terms.
The VP says the company welcomes the scrutiny because in the end it leads to better services. “From the beginning, our approach has been to provide the most relevant answers, and we’ll continue doing just that.”