We know that a while back the entertainment industry apparently pressured Google into removing terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in Autocomplete. Of course, this strategy is completely absurd and it is hard to imagine that industry execs actually believe this would ever stop a single pirate. Yes, pirates will no longer be freely offered suggestions on what words to search for, but if someone opened up Google looking for pirated material they certainly won’t consider that such an insurmountable barrier that they just give up at that point.

Nevertheless, I noticed a peculiar thing today: if you type riaa sucks or mpaa sucks, the instant search box quickly disappears and offers no suggestions. Now if you press Enter, you can see that “riaa sucks” has about 27,000 results and “mpaa sucks” has about 7,900 results, so certainly both of those qualify as suggestible searches.

What’s even more interesting is that if you start typing Google Sucks you certainly will get some suggestions:

In fact, you can put in just about any company name followed by sucks and there are instant results, but curiously none ever appear for the RIAA or MPAA.

So what we can conclude from this is that either:

  1. Google itself compiled a list of searches as being closely related to piracy and decided to throw in RIAA sucks and MPAA sucks just to be nice, or
  2. The entertainment  industry actually provided the block list and while they were at it abuses that privilege and slipped in a few terms that might be unfavorable to their reputation.

Now I would tend to think that the second situation is the case here, which means it would be very interesting to see the list of words that Google is blocking to see what other interesting terms might be blocked. What’s also interesting is that while playing around with autocomplete terms for the RIAA, I noticed that a large majority of them seem to be favorable rather than critical. This is very surprising considering what 96.6% of the Internet thinks about the RIAA.

So apparently in their efforts to stop piracy, the RIAA and MPAA also get the highly coveted ability to dictate at least what Google auto suggests about them. Whether they are flat-out devious or simply full of naive corporate narcissism I don’t know, but surely an industry who has abused this small amount of leeway would not hesitate to abuse the expanded control they are demanding from search engines.

So my question to Google is, can anyone  who sells intellectual property block their own my company sucks suggestions from auto suggest?

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