Google denies ‘Tories are/Labour are’ autocomplete ‘conspiracy theories’

A Google spokesperson told the Guardian that the company “can categorically state that tax is not remotely connected to this, nor are their ‘conspiracy theories’ founded in any way”.


Instead, Google said: “Autocomplete predictions are produced based on a number of factors including the popularity of search terms.


So do searches for the Tories or Conservatives produce a different effect? Google offered a hint, saying: “We do remove offensive or inappropriate content from autocomplete predictions.” There’s even a web page where anyone can report offensive predictions.


It could be that the search results for “Tories are” and “Conservatives are” were so bad that the terms were removed automatically because they were so offensive. A similar override occurs for searches including “Christians are”, “Jews are”. Interestingly, “Muslims are” offers just one autocomplete: “Muslims are not terrorists”.


Or it could be the case that the Conservatives are better at reporting offensive terms than Labour or the Liberal Democrats – but a source close to the Conservative party told the Guardian it had not reported any offensive terms to Google.


Meanwhile, other searches for the same party do autocomplete: “The Conservative party is” completes with “your enemy”. A search for “Tory party is” offers another part of the puzzle, autocompleting to “Conservative party is bad” – suggesting that Google treats the two terms as interchangeable.

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