Update: Shortly after this post went live, the ‘bug’ was fixed. It’s both nice and scary to know that Google is watching.
Here at Kahena, we often use Google Insights for Search (now consolidated with Google Trends) as a tool for quickly assessing the search opportunity or seasonality of a new campaign. While testing the accuracy of the data with Google AdWords keyword data (for a future blog post!), I stumbled upon something quite interesting. This could be a bug, but it could also be something much larger. Is Google censoring its data for the upcoming presidential election?
A search on a national level for each candidate’s last names resulted in an error message of “Not enough search volume to show graphs.”
Only Blocked at a National Level
A search through some specific (swing) states provided successful results, however (Romney in red, Obama in blue):
Click to Enlarge
Deliberate Censorship or a Bug?
Is this censorship merely a bug, or does Google want to hide national level election trends? This only seems to trigger with Obama’s and Romney’s names in the United States aggregate trend reports. We were unable to reproduce this ‘bug’ with vice presidential candidates, senate or house leaders, and other popular names. Have you found similar instances of censorship? Do you think Google is afraid it may be able to predict or swing votes?