A powerful new ad campaign for UN Women finds its copy in actual Google Autocomplete suggestions succeeding search queries like “Women shouldn’t” and “Women need to”. The results are misogynist, and even more so once you understand that their existence in Google Autocomplete is the result of those phrases appearing in relatively high volumes of actual searches:
The search queries that you see as part of autocomplete are a reflection of the search activity of all web users and the content of web pages indexed by Google…Autocomplete predictions are algorithmically determined based on a number of factors (including popularity of search terms) without any human intervention. Just like the web, the search queries presented may include silly or strange or surprising terms and phrases. While we always strive to reflect the diversity of content on the web (some good, some objectionable), we also apply a narrow set of removal policies for pornography, violence, hate speech, and terms that are frequently used to find content that infringes copyrights.
Out of sheer curiosity, I tried entering the male versions of these phrases. The results aren’t nearly as violent, but do represent some stereotypical gender norms: Men are cheaters who shouldn’t be trusted, and, according to some significant portion of the population, shouldn’t marry or wear flip flops.