Yahoo! has recently launched a new keyword and search comparison tool called Yahoo! Clues. This tool allows search marketers to study patterns followed by users while conducting a search. It also gives information about what terms were searched just before and after a particular keyword. The tool however, has made some glaring omissions.
When users look up data on words like ‘gay’ and ‘sex’ they do not receive any results. There is no data available for these search terms. However, they do show data for the word ‘lesbian’ and ‘homosexual’.
Yahoo! Search Clues for “Gay” and “Lesbian”
It is, of course, possible that users may assume that these terms have been avoided deliberately with a view to maintaining a family atmosphere, where people need not be embarrassed by the availability of certain search words that have a sexual connotation.
While this attitude itself is quite surprising in this day and age, what is even more surprising is the fact that words such as ‘lesbian’, ‘bisexual’ and ‘transgender’ are very much present.
It is not known whether this act on the part of Yahoo! was accidental or intentional. However, once this fact becomes known to certain sections of users, it may lead to some protests regarding discrimination.
Not The Only Prude
Yahoo! Clues is certainly not the first to avoid the use of certain words that may suggest adult content. In the past, Google Instant, Google Trends and Apple have also disallowed the use of words indicating sexual context without an express confirmation from the user that they wish to view non-family-safe content.
When a correspondent from ZDNet contacted Yahoo! about these omissions, they received a reply to the effect that Yahoo! Clues was still in the beta testing stage and their data is not yet comprehensive. New search terms and data are likely to be added in due course. Yahoo! officials refused to confirm or deny whether terms such as ‘gay’ and ‘sex’ would eventually be included.