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This woman stopped the word ‘lesbian’ appearing alongside porn on Google

Ella Braidwood August 23, 2019

Fanchon Mayaudon-Nehlig. (LinkedIn)

One woman has revealed how she led a campaign stop the French word for “lesbian” appearing alongside pornographic images on Google.

Fanchon Mayaudon-Nehlig, a communications consultant, explained that she set up the hashtag #SEOlesbienne in April after her wife told her she was not comfortable saying “lesbienne” in public.

“In France, at that point, some mainstream media were starting to talk about lesbians, and we lesbians were trying to raise awareness about how sexualised we are, especially on the internet,” Mayaudon-Nehlig told HuffPost Brazil.

She explained that, after the initiative was covered by the French press, she and her wife then formed the activist group SEO Lesbianne, bringing on board SEO experts and more lesbians.

By August, Google France had reportedly changed the algorithm to ensure that porn was not highlighted when users searched for “lesbienne”.

Google changes algorithm for “lesbienne” after SEO campaign.

The Google logo. (Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Mayaudon-Nehlig explained that she and her wife knew the change was possible as Google had previously changed the algorithm for the French word for “cat”, after images of vaginas appeared when users searched for “chatte”.

Porn may still appear alongside “lesbian” in Google search for other languages.

“We knew that we weren’t only fighting for ourselves. It was too late for us,” Mayaudon-Nehlig told HuffPost Brazil.

“We’d had to deal with the situation for years. But we could make an impact for younger women who are just starting to question their sexual orientation.”

I did not want to be a porn star, but Google seemed to think that was my only option!

The algorithm shift is reportedly still in the early stages and so searches for the word “lesbian” in languages other than French may still highlight pornographic images, according to HuffPost Brazil.

The communications consultant added: “I remembered how surprised I was at the results I got as a teenager when I discreetly Googled ‘lesbienne.’

“I did not want to be a porn star, but Google seemed to think that was my only option!”

More: Google, lesbian, lesbienne

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