For the first time in two years, BitTorrent and uTorrent are now included in the Autocomplete and Instant functions of Google searches, but Google says it has not changed its policy on sites used for piracy.
Autocomplete uses predicative algorithms to help users search for terms on Google. For example, if a user types in “International B,” Google will complete the term with “International business” or “International Business Times.” Instant pulls up the results of that search immediately, allowing users to see possible results faster.
Google began filtering websites commonly used for piracy, like The Pirate Bay and Rapidshare, from these services about two years ago. While the sites aren’t removed from Google’s index, users must type the full term in order to see results. It may seem like a small change, but it results in a sharp decrease in searches for those terms.
Sites like TorrentFreak suggested that the inclusion of BitTorrent and uTorrent indicated a change in Google’s policies toward the websites, both owned by San Francisco-based BitTorrent Inc. TorrentFreak also noted a chart that shows a sharp increase in searches for “BitTorrent” in April 2013.
Google does not disclose exactly which sites it adds to the blacklist or why, but it said the inclusion of BitTorrent and uTorrent in Autocomplete and Instant is not a result of a changed Google policy toward piracy.
“We frequently make changes and updates to our algorithms,” a Google spokesperson told IB Times. “This is not as a result of any change in our policies.“
While searches for “BitTorrent” may have increased slightly in recent months, a larger look shows that traffic steadily decreased after peaking in 2005 before leveling out in 2012, according to Google Trends.
Searches for “uTorrent” experienced a similar spike in April 2013, and the site currently enjoys the most Google search traffic it has experienced since 2011. It could be that uTorrent is experiencing the benefits of the Autocomplete and Instant features, but there are not enough data to make that conclusion.