Want the Worst? Search for 'Gayest'

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com May 24 2013 7:25 PM ET

In recent years activists have taken the “don’t say gay” (as a pejorative) message to the public in a big way. But what to do when technology equates “gay” with something negative?

BuzzFeed reporter Louis Peltzman notes that a Google search for “gayest trends” turns up results for “worst trends.” “The word ‘worst’ is bolded on Google, highlighting it as a match for the word ‘gayest,’” he writes.

There have been Change.org petitions to address the problem; they have gathered few signatures, although the number of signatures on the latest one jumped after the BuzzFeed story ran Thursday. There also have been complaints to Google at product forums.

Google responded to Peltzman with the following statement: “Google’s results, including when a search term is synonymized with another, are a reflection of content on the web and how people search. These results are determined by algorithms and we don’t manually correct this process, but we are always looking at how we can improve our algorithms.”