Part of a Whole

My name is Nicolas Steenhout.
I speak, train, and consult about inclusion, accessibility and disability.

Disabled People Should Be Killed Says Google

Google search makes suggestion on often used search terms as you type queries in its search box. Handy, right? In this case, I find the autocomplete suggestions particularly scary. Typing the terms "disabled people should" returns suggestions like "should be killed", "should not have children", and more!

Google’s support page on Inside Search – Autocomplete explains that "as you type within the search box on Google, Autocomplete helps you find information quickly by displaying searches that might be similar to the one you’re typing".

Typing "disabled people should" in the Google’s search box returns a bewildering array of negative and powerful options. 3 out of 10 options suggest death for people with disabilities. Another 30% of options suggest people with disabilities should not have kids. 20% related to work – either we shouldn’t work at all, or if we do, get paid less. Only 1 out of 10 option suggest people with disabilities should be treated equally.

Screenshot of Google's autocomplet four suggestions

The four options listed are:

  • disabled people should be killed
  • disabled people should not have children
  • disabled people should work for less
  • disabled people should be put down

Screenshot of Google's search widget's autocomplete 10 suggestions

Using the google search widget in Firefox yields more than four results, but nearly all are similarly negative:

  • disabled people should be killed
  • disabled people should not have children
  • disabled people should work for less
  • disabled people should be put down
  • disabled people should be treated equally
  • disabled people should
  • disabled people should die
  • disabled people should be sterilized
  • disabled people should not work
  • disabled people shouldn’t have kids

Google’s support page explains how the autocomplete predictions are reached:

Autocomplete predictions are algorithmically determined based on a number of factors (including popularity of search terms) without any human intervention.

I shouldn’t be surprised, really. A 2008 survey showed that 52% of Americans would rather be dead than disabled. We like to think that the perception of people with disabilities is growing progressively more positive, but this shows me that there is still a LONG way to go.

And I recommend against performing the suggested search, the reading the search results. There are some really ugly people in this world.