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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Google is guessing at the sexual orientation of celebs — is this weird?

Via Nerve, we learn something strange:

So, Google has a weird new thing going on: the search engine will now supply (for some people) the best guess as to their sexual orientation before even the top result when you start to search “Is [celebrity].” It’s very flattering that the company understands and appreciates one of the top three reasons I use Google, but I find this exceptionally odd. So, Neil Patrick Harris shows up like this:

Google guesses that Neil Patrick Harris is gay

Which is, of course, the correct “guess.” It’s not a guess at all, because Harris is totally out about his orientation.

Nerve writer James Brady Ryan goes on to point out, however, that celebs who are not out but are presumed to be gay — such as Jodie Foster and Anderson Cooper — get different treatment: sometimes Google offers a guess, and sometimes it doesn’t. As as one commenter notes, Google doesn’t ever seem to guess anyone is bisexual.

Nerve again:

I understand what Google is doing here — it’s simply aggregating the instances a celebrity has talked about their own sexual orientation, analyzing it, and presenting you with the logical conclusion at the top of its search results. The real question is: uh, why, exactly?

Precisely the question. Google isn’t revealing any secrets, it’s just summarizing the conversation about a celebrity. But why suddenly make a special point of summarizing so succinctly about this particular aspect of a person’s life?

Google is guessing at the sexual orientation of celebs — is this weird?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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