Filters, Search and Sexual Discrimination: New Yahoo! Product Says No Gays, But Lesbians Okay

by Violet Blue on November 22, 2010

I was astonished when ZDNet colleague and SEO expert Stephen Chapman sent me a tip about Yahoo!’s new product, Clues, with the message that it seemed to be filtering out certain terms. In a few minutes of entering terms, I saw something very upsetting. Clues was supposed to be like a richer Google Trends, and yet it appeared to deliberately not returning results for the words “gay” and “sex” among others — while giving results for “lesbian” and other terms. Sexualizing the word gay is problematic; yet keeping in “lesbian’ is to me, nothing short of discriminatory homophobic bias.

I had to write No “Gay” or “Sex” In Yahoo! Clues: The Emergent Trend of Filtered Results. There are arguments in the comments. Help me raise awareness about this. Discrimination based on sexual orientation and sex-negativity is not good for business, the open internet, or the world. Here’s a snip:

I asked, and now I’m telling: looks like Yahoo! Clues, the new keyword search and comparison tool, has a problem with the gays.

Yahoo!’s new research tool Clues appears to be part of the growing trend of search giants and their tools not reporting results or returning data on sex-related keywords. Launched this last Tuesday, the service offered a way for people to “Explore interesting patterns in what people are searching for on Yahoo! Search.” As of this writing, amazingly, there is still no data available for anyone searching for “gay,” “masturbation” or “sex“. No data available, indeed.

Methinks the lady doth protest too much. It’s just like if Google Trends had a homophobic little brother. Especially when Clues does give us results for “lesbian,” “bisexual” and “transgender.” (…read more,


Violet Blue

The London Times named Violet Blue "One of the 40 bloggers who really count" and Self Magazine named TinyNibbles one of the “Best Sex Resources for Women.” Blue is an autodidact and pundit on sex and technology, hacking and security, porn for women, privacy and bleeding-edge tech culture. She is a journalist for ZDNet, CBS News, CNET; she's an educator, speaker, crisis counselor, volunteer NGO trainer, and the author and editor of over 40 award-winning books.

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