On my recent article When anti-sexism becomes proof for sexism – UN Women campaign with Google’s autocomplete, several people via Facebook and in the comments pointed out that Google’s autocomplete suggestions rather depend on what users search for than what the content of the indexed web pages is. So I looked up what Google says about this:
The search queries that you see as part of autocomplete are a reflection of the search activity of all web users and the content of web pages indexed by Google.
As we see, it is both: the search activity and the content of the indexed web pages. My first article only looked at the latter one but thanks to Google’s Keyword Planner we can look up the search activity for any search phrase. 1
In the following screenshot, we see the average monthly search activity for the sexist phrases used in the UN Women campaign:
The most active phrase, “women should stay at home” is searched 720 times on average, world-wide, in all languages. All other phrases are searched much less often.
Additionally, we don’t even know if these 720 searches come from sexists, since we don’t know the motivation for the search. People could also search for the phrase out of curiosity or for research, as I did for my previous article. Searching for a phrase doesn’t mean to approve it.
But the most interesting thing is: On every phrase, there is a small chart icon. Hovering the mouse over it lets a popup appear with a diagram of the monthly searches for the last 12 months. And here we can see something very weird:
All phrases show a strong peak in search activity in March or April this year. Some of them, like “women need to be put in their place” or “women need to be disciplined“, even show no search activity before this time.
So the question arises: Who searched so often for sexisms in the spring of this year – and why?
1 Thanks to Reinhardt for the hint to Google’s Keyword Planner.