So I started doing some research for a few blog entries, which gave me cause to Google the word “bastard.” Being an adoption activist, I’ve done this plenty of times before, and haven’t had a problem. Imagine my surprise when this time Google presents me with the following, along with a bunch of non-relevant results:
“The word “bastard” has been filtered from the search because Google SafeSearch is active.”
If I search for the word “bastard,” dammit, I expect to find results containing the word “bastard.” Being an IT pro, I am highly attuned to my computer and network. I am running no content filters nor proxy servers, nor have I signed up for SafeSearch. I did some testing, and it seems Google has suddenly decided the word “bastard” needs to be shielded from anyone who performs a standard Google search.
Try Googling the word “adoption.” Like the mass media, the results are skewed to the perspectives of adopters/potential adopters and adoption agencies. Google’s SafeSearch filter is prohibiting honest discussion about adoption. Some might say that activist groups like Bastard Nation ought to drop such a naughty word from their name, but that’s beside the point. You can’t have an intelligent conversation about adoption without talking about the illegitimacy of adoptees, and “bastard” is the dictionary term for it. Anybody who’s offended by the word “bastard” should try being one.
Google is probably thinking of this from the perspective of “online safety for kids,” but it results in censorship. Everyone knows the naked Internet is not kid-safe. Speaking as both a geek and a mom, if you want the word “bastard” blocked, use a content filter. Those of us who prefer our Internet straight up expect companies in the information business to provide equal, objective access. This could also get into the discussion of net neutrality. I could easily see the bigwig adoption agencies (who have money) paying Internet service providers to promote keyword links to their own sites over the sites of birth relatives, adoptees, and activist groups (who, on the whole, don’t).
It’ll be interesting to see, considering that I used The Word twice in the title, whether this post makes it into cyberspace at all.