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Some Folks *Really* Hate Autocomplete

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Tuesday March 27, 2012 )

I’m referring to Google’s autocomplete – the feature that tries to predict the query you are going to search. You might want to check what comes up when you type your name in.

I’ve always found autocomplete to be a little bit of a PITA, but not enough to do more than curse and just get on with it; although sometimes it’s left me laughing at what it “thinks” I’m looking for and at other times, mildly shocked.

Before you go rushing to type in your favorite cuss words to see what autocomplete says, obviously Google engineers aren’t all that naive. I tried typing in a four letter c word ending with t and Google, bless its pure digital heart, helpfully suggested I might be looking for “country road” or “country cars”.

Autocomplete can be a useful tool as part of SEO research as it can give you an idea of what people have been searching on.

A gentleman in Japan though seems to have had a different experience with the feature – and the country’s legal system is backing him.

According to Japan Times, Tokyo District Court has approved a petition demanding that Google Inc. delete certain terms after a man alleged it breached his privacy and got him fired. Additionally, he believes it has also stopped him from gaining employment elsewhere.

It seems that when you type this man’s name into Google (his name has been withheld), it associates it with criminal acts. Then if you select any of those terms, a bunch of pages come up relating to deeds committed by a person sharing the same name.

That would be more than a little unsettling if you have an unusual name, so I understand his angst. The John Smiths of the world probably wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.

Google is reportedly digging its heels in over the issue.


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