Google Instant is a bit of a gossip

Are you guys familiar with Google Instant Search? Of course you are. This is like asking if you use the Internet, which you do, or else you wouldn’t be reading this. When you do a Google search you’ll see Google Instant Search in action when it displays a list of suggested searches that change as you type. Like so many things, I doubt the creators of Google Instant Search anticipated all the ways it would be used. Instant searches can be funny and disturbing, mostly because they’re so unpredictable. It’s like you’re playing a round of Family Feud with the rest of the internet, and the Internet is WEIRD. The results have also been used to write surprisingly good found poetry or reveal a disturbing amount of sexism in popular searches. The alogrithm behind the results uses a combination of popularity, relevance and freshness to generate results.

So, what happens when you Google my name? Um, this happens:

Google Instant Search for 'Jennette Fulda'

That’s right, the second suggested search is “jennette fulda boyfriend.” Say, whaaaa? Be honest now, have any of you been asking Google about my love life? And why? I’m not sure what to think of this. Are you trying to score a date? Did you read my books and want to know if I found the man of my dreams afterwards? It’s all slightly disturbing. I’m also surprised it ranked higher than “jennette fulda twitter” or “jennette fulda half-assed” which seem like reasonable searches. I even understand why people would be interested in “jennette fulda weight gain” though I obviously wish that weren’t the top search. Why isn’t “jennette fulda is a delightful person” in there? Can this system be gamed like it is with Google bombing?

I am now curious what Google Instant Search conjures up for other people’s names. Does anyone have any funny or horrifying stories to share? If you’re really into self punishment you can prompt more specific searches by adding a single letter after your name and running through the entire alphabet. For example, “jennette fulda h” prompts “jennette fulda half-assed,” “jennette fulda headaches,” and “jennette fulda half of me.”

So lay it on me. What is the Google Gossip saying about you or someone you know?

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  1. says

    Apparently, there is someone with the same name as me who is really into water conservation because that’s all that comes up with my name. My first and last names are also fairly common, so I’d have to do something really significant to show up on the instant search.

  2. says

    I clicked on the boyfriend one and realized a paragraph triggered it:

    In response to that entry, a reader named Alicia commented: “Oh my god! I’m at a loss for words right now … this is me to a tee, as everyone else has said. I have tried and failed at least four or five times in the past two years. I’m now up to 190, and I’m only 5-foot-3. This past year, I didn’t realize how big I was until my boyfriend bought a scale ‘for himself.’ I’ve gained 50 pounds in the past 7 years and that’s just unacceptable to me. I hope your candidness and personal drive can give me the strength to succeed as well. Thank You!”

  3. JenFul says

    I just went to check it again and “jennette fulda boyfriend” is now the top search!! By blogging about it I probably caused a few people to enter the search, bumping it to the top.

  4. says

    Nothing. Nothing at all. Even though I have my own freelance editing company, belong to several writing and editing organisations, judge book awards, review books, and have three blogs. And apparently there are at least a couple of other people with the same name. So I guess that means no one has ever searched for me on the internet? How depressing.

  5. Lara says

    Haha, that’s funny. I don’t Google myself – my married name is the same name as an adult film star. And yes, I did my research – I knew that fact and still changed it anyway. It’s worth it just to be able to say, “It’s spelled just like the color.” As compared to my maiden name, where I had to say “No, there is no ‘I” and there is no ‘X’. Yes, an ‘O’ and two ‘T’s at the end.”

    Though, it IS kind of stressful if I’m applying for a new job. How do you gracefully work that into your cover letter? “Yes, Mr/Ms Hiring Manager, I am a highly qualified candidate, and I’d like you to consider me for your prestigious firm, but here’s the thing – I know most people like to Google candidates, but please don’t Google me. It’s not me. It’s not! I swear!”

  6. Kathy W. says

    well, it also suggests searches based on what you’ve searched for yourself. I read a blog that starts with “friend”, so that pops up as no. 2 when I type “friend”. But that wouldn’t apply here (unless you have some sort of amnesia bout your ex-boyfriend’s name :)

    I think it’s just that the internets, they are nosy.

  7. Rachel says

    I used to read your blog religiously when you were still the pasta queen, and I probably googled you + boyfriend at least once or twice and it was because, unlike most bloggers who would make mention of a hubby or past boyfriend issues as it pertains to weight etc, you NEVER mentioned anything about dating or a love life or boyfriends from the past or anything.

    A lot of weight loss bloggers talk about wanting to lose weight to date more or to be more fit for their partner, but from my memory, that never came up with you.

    I think especially once you got super popular people might have thought you were protecting someone (hence the covert googling) when in reality you seem to just be very private and also probably just had nothin much going on.

    But the fact that you never spoke about it says volumes in itself. On the one hand, some weight loss bloggers seemed to be obsessed with pleasing the opposite sex and thinking losing weight would MAGICALLY give them a dating life (it doesn’t) but you never mentioned it AT ALL which was sort of equally weird because of COURSE that factors in to a lot of peoples actions, weight loss or otherwise.

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