At least that’s the first auto-completion you get on Google now. As you may have heard, for a while “Christianity is” produced all sorts of offensive completions, as did “Hinduism is” and most other religions. Islam was strangely silent, and lots of blogs started crying censorship (some of them, like this one, still are). This seems a very reasonable interpretation. I’m not so sure, however. Three things make me think this was something else:
- First, “Muhammad is” produced all the expected results, and calling Muhammad names is at least as bad as calling Islam names. Are Google really PC enough to censor “Islam is”, but not bright enough to wonder if there are other things that might enrage Muslims? This doesn’t add up to me.
- Second, if they’re that jumpy about Muslims, why not block all search results for “[RELIGION] is”? That would be just as easy, and it would be consistent. Then almost no religious people would complain. In fact, the only people who would complain are the ones who complained about the Islam thing in any case.
- Third, it didn’t really take very much to make them uncensor it, which suggests to me that they saw it more as a glitch to be corrected rather than a policy to be changed. I may be wrong about this; maybe it’s been like that for a very long time, and the fuss kicked up recently was actually big enough to worry them. Or maybe it’s connected with their decision to stop censoring themselves in China (i.e. maybe it was a big “stop all censorship [that people know about]” policy).
But I’m inclined to think not. I suspect it was either some weird error, or—and this is perhaps more likely—that it was just the work of one Muslim, or one over-PC person, in their censorship department.
I wonder if we’ll ever know.