- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Americans who want an accurate understanding of actor Jussie Smollett’s alleged “MAGA country!” attack will have to work a bit harder thanks to a Google rule on “disparaging” searches.

A spokesperson for Google told The Washington Free Beacon that he and others are digitally shielded on autocomplete searches due to “potentially disparaging or sensitive terms.”

Free Beacon reporter Brent Scher was trying to research the former “Empire” actor and the 16 counts of disorderly conduct filed against him, but autocomplete searches nudged him towards stories involving the LGBT activist’s wife, sister, and a small part in 1992’s Disney movie “The Mighty Ducks.”

“The policy for Autocomplete predictions does not take into account what results may appear when you do the search, but is specifically about the text in the prediction itself,” the spokesperson told the website. “We have algorithms that will prevent predictions from appearing if we detect that they likely violate any of the policies, and if our systems miss anything and violating predictions are reported, we will remove them.”

Charges against Mr. Smollett were dropped and records sealed in March, which prompted then-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to blast city officials.

“This looks like because he’s an actor, a person of influence, he got treated differently than anybody else,” Mr. Emanuel told ABC’s “Good Morning America” anchor George Stephanopoulos on March 27. “You have the state’s attorney’s office saying he’s not exonerated, he actually did commit this hoax. He’s saying he’s innocent. They better get their stories straight. This is actually making fools of all of us.”

A Cook County judge ultimately unsealed court documents on the actor after requests by various media groups.

The Free Beacon noted, however, that Google’s algorithm did a less convincing job of protecting Nicholas Sandmann, the Covington High School student who was falsely conveyed by many media outlets as behaving in a racist and bigoted manner at the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

“All the Google search suggestions for Sandmann are related to the video of him,” the Free Beacon reported. “On Bing, a Google competitor, search suggestions don’t appear to be censored—they’re all about the hate crime for Smollett, rape accusers for [Hollywood mogul Harvey] Weinstein, and about the protest video for Sandmann.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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