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Good News Bisexuals: You’re No Longer a Dirty Word

Good News Bisexuals: You’re No Longer a Dirty Word

Google once treated bisexuality as a dirty word. After a campaign by one bisexuality awareness group, they’ve had a rethink.

Google’s Bisexuality Problem

Google has received much praise from the LGBT community for the way it treats its LGBT workers and its Legalize Love campaign that aims to tackle anti-homosexuality laws around the world. However, while Google has certainly been at the leading edge of LGBT advocacy, for one group under that umbrella — bisexuals — there has been a sticking point: that the term bisexual was treated as a dirty word by the Google search engine.

Since late 2009 Google has classified the term “bisexual” as being primarily used for finding adult content, and as such deprioratized the term, meaning that its auto-suggest feature would not bring up phrases relating to bisexuality, including content such as bisexual support groups. This meant that while the content was still searchable through Google, it was not as easy to find as gay advice websites or lesbian support groups.

BiNet USA Campaigns to Have Google Rethink Bisexual Search Term

Seeing this as deeply problematic, visibility group BiNet USA launched a campaign to have Google rethink this issue and early last week was able to confirm that Google would now no longer blanket deprioratize “bisexuality” with its algorithm.

“It’s not every day one of the biggest companies in the world changes its mind, but we are thankful that Google now sees bisexual people just like everyone else,” said BiNet USA President Faith Cheltenham on the BiNet USA blog. “It will take time for bisexual search terms to be ranked as they were before the ban, but now bisexual people and their allies have a fighting chance to be seen, heard, and understood.”

As noted above, it will take time for search terms related to bisexuality to be ranked as they were prior to the 2009 change, however this will mean that bisexuality will eventually feature in Google’s Auto-Complete and Instant Search results in much the same way as other LGBT-related terms.

Why is Google’s Treatment of “Bisexual” Important?

Bisexual erasure continues to be a problem and one the LGBT community as a whole has struggled to deal with.

In a piece for the Huffington Post, Faith Cheltenham highlighted how Google’s treatment of the term fed into bi-erasure, quoting Jim Larsen, Secretary of the Bisexual Organizing Project as saying,  ”One of the biggest issues facing bisexuals is isolation and lack of community. When the No. 1 search engine in the world makes it harder to find information and a community, it is terribly unfortunate.”

In that same article, Cheltenham noted that many people and political groups including representatives from the White House, were unaware of bisexual community action groups, and she mused if this may in part be put down Google’s treatment. She also posed, “If one of the biggest companies in the world [Google] decides to erase your identity, will anyone notice?”

September 23 is Global Bisexuality Visibility Day, a day for fighting bi-erasure. In anticipation, why not read a few of the following Care2 articles related to bisexual issues:

8 Things Bisexuals Hear All The Damned Time

Erasing Bisexuality: Another Kind Of Homophobia

Study: Male Bisexuality Does Exist

Anna Paquin on Bisexuality and Prejudice


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Photo credit: Caitlin Childs via Flickr.

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9:18AM PST on Nov 28, 2012

hvala na clanku

11:23PM PDT on Oct 2, 2012

Had no idea search engines worked that way but wow this is super interesting and a great advance! :)

1:00PM PDT on Sep 22, 2012

I had no idea. Good to hear.

2:36PM PDT on Sep 21, 2012

And oh, Heather & Alan? You guys crack me up! You're going to try to say that I'm stereotyping? You mean to tell me that there AREN'T people claiming to be bisexual and therefore using that as an excuse to be promiscuous?
Oh Please! Sorry - been there, done that! Hung around with dozens of people who did JUST THAT! I'm not going to make apologies or excuses; I don't even have that many regrets.
But I speak from having been drenched in that lifestyle.
We knew who we were.
So you see? No stereotyping here because I'm NOT characterizing bisexuals that way. I'm only saying that there exists people who will make the claim and for many different personal reasons. If you're seeing a stereotype building, it makes me think you're a paranoid bisexual.
But I don't get that vibe from either of you.
So - why such the fuss?

2:30PM PDT on Sep 21, 2012

Attila is not so much a bigot as simply not believing in the new scientific studies of genetics and brain patterns that have proved (to me anyway) that being gay is a physiological state.

And Attila - you asked who knows what their sexual feelings were when they were children? I can tell you I've had long, deep, intimate conversations with many friends and acquaintances who identified with being gay. They (conservatively about 40, I'm very curious and ask without hesistation) ALL reported to me that their first feelings about being different occurred when they were extremely young children; about 3 or 4.

8:20AM PDT on Sep 21, 2012

Can I now say 'vagina' to a rethuglican then?

8:01PM PDT on Sep 20, 2012

Attila you are a bigot, stop lying to yourself and us. You used the same bullshit lies bigots used to discriminate against the LGBT community, therefore you are a bigot. Probably a self-hating homosexual as well. Just come out bro, no judgement here.

6:14PM PDT on Sep 20, 2012

about time

1:05PM PDT on Sep 20, 2012

Ultimately...and honestly.....why does it matter?

10:51AM PDT on Sep 20, 2012

Thanks for the article.

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