Google’s Danny Sullivan posted on the Google Blog an explanatory post on how Google autocomplete works with Google search for desktop, mobile and Chrome. The blog post goes through various examples of how it looks when you get an autocomplete on various devices, the logic behind the predictions, some of the policies behind when a prediction will be removed, and more. In addition, Google, in the upcoming weeks, will be expanding the type of autocomplete predictions they disallow in their guidelines.
Google also said that these autocompletes “save over 200 years of typing time per day” by reducing typing by about 25 percent.
The autocomplete shows predictions based on how Google thinks you “were likely to continue entering” the rest of your query. Google determines these predictions by looking at “the real searches that happen on Google and show common and trending ones relevant to the characters that are entered and also related to your location and previous searches.”
Google will remove some predictions when they are against their guidelines, specifically:
- Sexually explicit predictions that are not related to medical, scientific or sex education topics.
- Hateful predictions against groups and individuals on the basis of race, religion or several other demographics.
- Violent predictions.
- Dangerous and harmful activity in predictions.
- Closely associated with piracy.
- In response to valid legal request.
Expanding autocomplete removals
Google said in the upcoming weeks they will be expanding the types of prediction they remove from the autocomplete. These include hate and violence related removals. In addition to removing predictions that are hateful towards race, ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation or gender identity. Google will also remove predictions that are “perceived as hateful or prejudiced toward individuals and groups, without particular demographics,” Google added.
With the greater protections for individuals and groups, there may be exceptions where compelling public interest allows for a prediction to be retained. With groups, predictions might also be retained if there’s clear “attribution of source” indicated. For example, predictions for song lyrics or book titles that might be sensitive may appear, but only when combined with words like “lyrics” or “book” or other cues that indicate a specific work is being sought.
As for violence, our policy will expand to cover removal of predictions which seem to advocate, glorify or trivialize violence and atrocities, or which disparage victims.
Sometimes predictions that are against Google’s guidelines slip through, Google admits they “aren’t perfect” and work hard and fast to remove those when they are alerted of the issue. Google shares how you can submit feedback to to notify Google of inappropriate predictions: