Google is making changes to its autocomplete search suggestions ahead of the US presidential election.
Google’s autocomplete feature tries to predict what someone is searching for based on what they’ve typed so far. That’s based on factors like popularity and what other people have already searched for.
On Thursday, the tech giant said it will remove suggestions that could be seen as endorsing or opposing political parties and candidates. It will also eliminate autocomplete predictions related to information concerning participation in the election, such as voting methods, requirements or the status of voting locations. For example, phrases like “you can vote by phone” or “you can’t vote by phone” would not appear in autocomplete.
However, even though such phrases won’t auto-populate, people can still search for whatever phrases they want and see those results.
The move comes as Facebook, Twitter and other tech giants are trying to get a handle on misinformation ahead of the November election.
“We want to be very careful about the type of information that we highlight in the search feature given its prominence. Given the concern around elections and elections information, we want to be particularly conservative here,” said David Graff, Google’s senior director of global policy and standards, in an online event with reporters.
Graff said that seemingly innocuous suggestions may get swept up as a result of the policy change, but that the company wants to err on the side of caution. “We really want to prevent bad information … from surfacing in a feature like autocomplete,” he said.