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:
Photo credit: Caitlin Childs via Flickr.