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Google Search Equates "Gayest" With "Worst"

Google searches that include the term "gayest" bring up results with the word "worst" bolded.

Posted on May 22, 2013, at 5:31 p.m. ET

A Google search for "gayest trends." The top result is "10 Worst Men's Fashion Trends of the Decade," with "worst" in bold.

The use of "gay" as a pejorative is nothing new, but it's still somewhat surprising when a search for the "gayest trends" on Google yields the "worst trends." And it's not simply a matter of websites conflating "gayest" and "worst" on the pages Google brings up: the word "worst" is bolded on Google, highlighting it as a match for the word "gayest."

This phenomenon has been recognized in the past, but with little response. A current petition has, at press time, 18 signatures. There have also been a couple complaints made on Google's product forums, one in 2012 and one in 2011.

I reached out to Google for comment and have not heard back.

Update - May 22, 7:53 p.m., EDT:

A Google spokesperson issues the following response—

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.

Another search, this one for "gayest Disney movies," shows the same problematic result.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.