Porn filtering on Google Image Search has been updated

Posted: December 13, 2012

Google image searching has undergone a controversial change today as the company rolled out an ‘upgrade’ to its filtering system. Search for ‘porn’ today and you will receive a warning notification that your safe search is off. Even then, the results are much more moderate than they have been previously. Specify ‘xxx’, or ‘hardcore porn’, and you will fare much better. The changes make it harder to stumble inadvertently across explicit images.

“We are not censoring any adult content, and want to show users exactly what they are looking for — but we aim not to show sexually-explicit results unless a user is specifically searching for them,” a Google representative told CNET today. “We use algorithms to select the most relevant results for a given query. If you’re looking for adult content, you can find it without having to change the default setting – you just may need to be more explicit in your query if your search terms are potentially ambiguous. The image search settings now work the same way as in Web search.”

The update also replaces the three long-standing Safe Search moderation options, with simply the ‘Safe Search off’ default or the option to filter explicit results with ‘Safe Search on’. With Safe Search turned off, you should still be able to find anything you’re looking for provided you ask nicely enough. However, type in ‘hardcore porn’ with the ‘filter explicit results’ option selected and you receive something like the following: “The word “hardcore” has been filtered from the search because Google SafeSearch is active. The word “porn” has been filtered from the search because Google SafeSearch is active.”

Google have said that the changes were made to bring Google Image Search algorithms up to date and in line with the settings of other Google Search products for web and video search.

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