Google Instant instantly blacklists certain queries

Is instant censoring of Google Instant results an appropriate nod to good taste or an example of Google playing Big Brother?

From the "This feels like a bad idea" department, comes revelations that Google immediately blacklists a variety of search terms when users access their Instant search. Instant is a new feature that displays search results as you type and it's not only fast but quite useful, especially when combined with the seeming Orwellian intelligence of Google's search suggestions and autocomplete features. However, the wide range of terms (some obviously offensive, others not so much) that Google blocks from Instant is a good deal more interesting than the results the terms generate under normal Google search.

As the Inquirer so tactfully puts it,

A lot of the words are urban slang, so for example, camel podiatrists will find searching for information about their wards a less than Instant process, as will anyone looking for work in a factory that packs fudge. Unemployed altruists looking for a position as a missionary will also be stymied, and anyone with a rusty trombone that needs polishing will have to go through a laborious, old style Google search process.

Terms that might be deemed offensive aren't so bad, especially in a school or library setting where image search results instantly popping up based on an untoward (or even unintentional incomplete) search probably aren't a good idea. Not that your average student can't still hit enter after their query, but not throwing the results on screen immediately without so much as an enter is probably a wise idea.

However, when searching for "Google is evil" or "I hate Google" or "Google is bad" gives you nothing, then we start muddying the waters a bit.

First a search for Google is:

Add the word evil and poof! No results. You have to hit enter to get all the conspiracy theories and Big Brother comparisons:

A relatively complete list of blocked terms is available at 2600.com. This list is probably not safe for work, but makes it clear that most terms are offensive, others potentially offensive (including hate speech), and others still are just silly. Paris Hilton? Really?

What do you think? Is Google doing us a favor here, or should Instant just be subject to the standard Safe Search settings that govern the rest of our time Googling?

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