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Innovation

Why can't GMail spell the word "Facebook?"

We all know that Google's nemesis is Facebook. But why does this rivalry extend to its spell checker?
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor on

I use GMail all the time and its spell checker is usually pretty good. But the other day I noticed that it didn't recognize "Facebook."

I put in some other computer company names but only Facebook was flagged:

Is this such a tough algorithmic problem? How many times has GMail seen the word "Facebook?"

Not enough times apparently because it offers these as a guess: Face book, Casebook, Passbook, and thinking we live in Elizabethan times: Forsook.

This has to be deliberate that Google cannot figure out how to spell "Facebook." This means that Google does use humans to interfere with its results -- it's not all algorithm all the time. Yet it loves to bolster the mythology of its algorithm.

For example: At the bottom of each page on Google News you will find this explanation:

“The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program.”

Maybe The Google spell checker should come with this explanation:

"The selection and correction of misspellings on this page were determined automatically by who we hate. No computer program was involved."

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