Sunday, October 19, 2008

Google Blocks Site Containing Disparaging Joke About Kevin Rudd *

Googlers will be amused to note that in response to a search like ***:
"Kevin Rudd" site:org
Google will display this message:

In response to a legal request submitted to Google, we have removed 2 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read more about the request at

Upon visiting the link, one finds a letter which indicates that the result has been removed because it contains child pornography.

Intrigued by this, I started to wonder what other terms were blocked and I found that the following queries were also blocked:

"Julia Gillard" site:org
"Stephen Conroy" site:org
"Australian Politics" site:org
"Australian Politics" October 2008 site:org
"John Howard" site:org
but not:
"John Faulkner" site:org
"Malcom Turnbull" site:org
"Australian Politics" August 2008 site:org
I found that this search:
site:org "Australian Politics" "illegal" "rudd" "October" "2008" "terrorist" "July" "Gillard"
yields 7 hits and one block. I then wondered if I could work out what text was on the blocked page by trying various phrases that invoked the filter. Including:
"Kevin Rudd is a" site:org
This yielded several results and a block, so I substituted in text from a non-blocked site. Eventually, I found that this:
"Kevin Rudd is a bureaucratic" site:org
produces exactly one hit and one block. Here is the full text of the non-blocked result:

A platoon of Aussie soldiers were patrolling north of Fallujah when they came upon an Iraqi terrorist, badly injured and unconscious. On the opposite side of the road was an Australian soldier in a similar but less serious state.

The soldier was conscious and alert and as first aid was given to both men, the Platoon Leader asked the injured Australian what had happened. The soldier reported, 'I was heavily armed and moving north along the highway here, and coming south was a heavily armed insurgent.' We saw each other and both took cover in the ditches along the road. I yelled to him that Saddam Hussein was a miserable, lowlife scum bag who got what he deserved. He yelled back that Kevin Rudd is a bureaucratic, good-for-nothing, right wing labor dickhead who knows bugger all about running the country.'

'So I said that Osama Bin Ladin dresses like a frigid, mean-spirited lesbian and acts like one too!' He retaliated by yelling, 'Oh yeah? Well, so does Julia Gillard!'

'And so there we were, in the middle of the road, laughing and chatting away when a truck hit us.'

Searching for any phrase from that joke, causes Google to report a blocked result. Add the criteria: +conroy like so:
"Saddam Hussein was a miserable, lowlife scum" +conroy site:org

and Google reports that all results for this query are blocked.

The conclusion, therefore, is that Google's filter is blocking a site that contains a disparaging joke about Kevin Rudd and some reference to Stephen Conroy.

* Of course, the presence of a disparaging joke about Kevin Rudd is almost certainly not the reason Google is blocking the site, but the fact remains the site contains a disparaging joke about Kevin Rudd and it is being censored. Not a good look for a government wishing to impose a mandatory filtering regime on the country's Internet feeds.

** to duplicate this result you need to have disabled Google's strict content filtering in the preferences page of the Google search page.

*** since writing this post, Google's search engine is behaving differently on the less specific queries listed above. However, as of 20/10, this search still causes Google to report a blocked result.

site:org "Stephen Conroy" "Australian Politics" "Kevin Rudd"

**** As of 21/10, none of the above Google searches listed above yield an indication of a blocked result.

***** Updated 16 January, 2010: See "Re: Google Blocks Site Containing Disparaging Joke About Kevin Rudd" for an update to my findings in relation to this search.


JonDgar said...

That is a funny joke. I wonder if Facebook will get blocked if I post it on my wall...

Jon Seymour said...

I know you are only suggesting this in jest. Of course, it wasn't the joke itself that was the subject of the filter. The joke just happened to be on a page that was filtered for some other reason.

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