Google Suggest is a useful little time saver that pulls up possible search terms as you type into the main Google query box. So why won’t it suggest that anyone might be searching for conservative commentator and former presidential hopeful Pat Buchanan?
Typing in the first few letters of Pat Buchanan’s name “Pat Bu” brings on a half dozen suggestions of far more obscure people, as Steve Sailer discovered. If you push it a bit further, including more letters of Pat Buchanan’s name, Google Suggest just stops making suggestions.
We tested this a few different ways. If you’re signed in to your Google Account and have Web History enabled, suggestions are influenced by other searches you’ve done. For our part, it didn’t matter whether we signed in or not: Google wouldn’t suggest Pat Buchanan.
So what’s going on here? Google couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. It only has an answering machine attached to its press relations line and it didn’t respond to an email asking about it.
Google says it tries to filter out suggestions that include “pornographic terms, dirty words, and hate and violence terms.” Of course, doing so involves making judgments about what counts as pornography, dirty words, or hate terms. Is “Pat Buchanan” a hate term in Google eyes?
Here’s a video put together by my brother Tim Carney demonstrating the Google Suggest anti-Buchanan phenomenon. (Full disclosure: I worked for Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaign in 1996.)