Google has been censoring users’ searches of actor Jussie Smollett‘s name, excluding terms related to his alleged “hate crime hoax.”
According to a report Tuesday in the Washington Free Beacon, a review of Google’s autocomplete search function returned no results for “Jussie Smollett” related to what Chicago police said was his attempt to stage a bigoted attack against himself in January.
Smollett was cut from Fox’s hit series “Empire” in May, and the show was subsequently canceled. Yet “Empire” appears as the first autocomplete suggestion for the actor’s name. Google also offers “Mighty Ducks” – a 1992 Disney movie in which Smollett had a minor role.
Even typing the letter “H” after the actor’s name fails to bring up “hate crime” or “hoax.” Instead, Google suggests terms like “height” and “house.”
Google Trends tells a different story. The data shows that searches for Smollett, previously almost nonexistent, skyrocketed after he reported being the victim of a racist and anti-gay assault outside his Chicago apartment on Jan. 29.
As news leaked that the police suspected Smollett of orchestrating the attack against himself for publicity, people began googling “jussie attack” and “jussie smollett fake.” Top related topics associated with Smollett’s name are “hoax,” “lie,” “Chicago Police Department,” and “hate crime,” according to the data.
However, none of those terms show up as autocomplete suggestions when a user types in “Jussie Smollett.”
A Google spokesperson told the Free Beacon that the company’s autocomplete policy prohibits “predictions that associate potentially disparaging or sensitive terms with named individuals.” The spokesperson further said that the autocomplete feature does not change what users ultimately see in search results.
“The policy for Autocomplete predictions does not take into account what results may appear when you do the search, but is specifically about the text in the prediction itself,” the spokesperson said. “We have algorithms that will prevent predictions from appearing if we detect that they likely violate any of the policies, and if our systems miss anything and violating predictions are reported, we will remove them.”
The Free Beacon found that similar filtering appears to be used for disgraced Hollywood director Harvey Weinstein. Suggested searches for the serial woman abuser include phrases like “movies,” “wife” and “net worth.” But they return no results related to accusations of rape and sexual abuse against him.
On the other hand, the function does not appear to be in place to protect Nicholas Sandmann, a “MAGA” hat-wearing Covington High School student who was pilloried in the media over a deceptively edited video clip of his confrontation with a Native American protestor in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 18. Google searches for Sandmann’s name readily direct users to both the video and the since-debunked coverage.
Google censors more than Jussie Smollett searches
A number of internet giants – including Facebook, Twitter, and Google subsidiary Youtube – have lately stepped up policing of “hateful” content on their platforms. As many on the left have demanded a wider crackdown, conservatives have decried what they say amounts to marginalization and censorship of their views.