After nearly three weeks, Google is finally repairing a glitch that hid search suggestions for the phrase "Islam is," which had led some to conclude that Google -- whose mantra is "don't be evil" -- had been censoring its search results.
A Google spokesman tells FoxNews.com that "the bug fix is in the process of rolling out, and suggestions will be visible within the next few days." Twitter comments from readers across the country confirm Google's statement; reports from Florida, Ohio, New Jersey, Georgia and more concur that the fix is rolling out across the country.
When FoxNews.com had asked Google for an explanation on Jan. 8, a company spokesman explained that the weird absence of results was just a software problem: "This is in fact a bug and we're working to fix it as quickly as we can." But the company would not respond to requests for clarification, nor would it offer a timeline for repairing the problem.
And until this morning, nearly three weeks had elapsed without a patch for the glitch, which clearly turned out to be more complex than initially assumed. When asked this morning for an estimated repair date for the bug, a Google spokesman would say only that the company was working on a fix, adding that "this is not an editorial thing."
Meanwhile, the other major search engines continued to return a wealth of results about what Islam may be. Bing and MSN both suggest that "Islam is the light," while Yahoo proposes that "Islam is the way of life." And Ask.com coyly points out that "Islam is the light, doll."
Our initial report on the "Islam is" bug generated a firestorm of controversy among FoxNews.com readers.
cncfan wrote, "I quit using Google last year, got fed up with their censor and promoting their left-leaning ideas." And Jerzyboy commented, "This is just one more 'flag' that Internet search engines have a lot of power to steer public opinion. Let's hope that Bing et-al offer a way to diversify results and get away from the bias of Google or anyone else."
mark.msjacobs and others sided with Google on the issue: "Since the results for Mohammed yield some pretty negative stuff, I'll give Google the benefit of the doubt on this one."
According to Google's Web site, the query suggestions that appear as you type are drawn from from searches you've done (if you're logged in), searches done by users all over the world, sites in the search index and ads in Google's network.
The company also explains that "We try to filter out suggestions that include pornographic terms, dirty words and hate and violence terms. If you encounter a term that should not be suggested, please let us know by posting in the Google Web Search Help Forum."
Many quirky items do make their way through the filters, however. Search for "can j" and the first suggestion asks, "Can Jesus microwave a burrito?" The bizarre metaphysical question is a reference to "The Simpsons" TV show, where Homer Simpson once asked, "Can Jesus microwave a burrito so hot even he could not eat it?"
An intriguing corollary: Google does offer search suggestions for future tense queries as well. Search for "Christianity will" and Google suggests "Christianity will end, it will disappear," and "Christianity will end." Input the same query about Islam and Google notes that "Islam will dominate the world" and "Islam will destroy Europe."
Jeremy A. Kaplan is Science and Technology editor at FoxNews.com, where he heads up coverage of gadgets, the online world, space travel, nature, the environment, and more. Prior to joining Fox, he was executive editor of PC Magazine, co-host of the Fastest Geek competition, and a founding editor of GoodCleanTech.