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Google is testing a new, more visible way for searchers to report potentially offensive suggestions in its Autocomplete feature.
The test is currently limited to a very small percentage of Google users, but the company says it hopes to roll it out to all users around the world soon. Google shared the screenshot below of one version of the reporting tool — you can see the gray text, “Report offensive query” in the bottom right, below the last Autocomplete suggestion. This may not necessarily be what the final feedback invitation looks like, but is one version in testing now.
A Google spokesperson confirmed the feedback test in a statement shared with Search Engine Land:
“Autocomplete predictions are based on searches previously carried out by users around the world. That means that predicted terms are sometimes unexpected or offensive. We have been actively working on improvements to our algorithm that will help surface more high quality, credible content on the web. In addition, we’re experimenting with a new feature that allows people to report offensive Search predictions. We’re working to incorporate such feedback into our algorithms, and we hope to roll this out more broadly over time. Autocomplete isn’t an exact science and we’re continually working to improve it.”
Google users have already been able to report offensive Autocomplete predictions, but only via a form that’s buried in Google’s support pages. Putting the feedback invitation right in the Autocomplete suggestions will certainly make it more visible and should lead to a lot more reports.
Autocomplete is Google’s tool that relies on worldwide search activity to predict what a user is searching for and display potentially matching queries. But it’s a feature that has come under fire for years. There were accusations last year that Autocomplete was filtering results to Hillary Clinton’s benefit. Before that, the company responded to complaints by removing the phrase “how can I join ISIS” from Autocomplete. Google’s come under fire for racist suggestions in Autocomplete, and has gone to court on several occasions over predicted Autocomplete queries.
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