SEO

Google “Censors” Porn in Image Search

The mighty promoter of the free Internet for all, freedom of expression and the like, has made a significant change to the way it displays explicit images in its image search. reddit users, and not only them, are in disbelief, and their concerns about censorship attracted immediate media attention. While Google denies intent of censorship, users can no longer find porn easily with Google image search. The ability to turn SafeSearch on and off on Google image search is now replaced with “filter explicit images” and “report offensive images.”

google search1 Google Censors Porn in Image Search

Google image results for a common sex act are funny and far from porn. But when you “filter explicit images” this particular search will show no results.

Some more innocent queries like “boob” (a term listed in any English dictionary) will not return any results with “filter explicit images” on – a silly thing if you consider the first definition of the term: a stupid awkward person. Only the second definition of the term refers to a woman’s breast. One could argue that Google image search is now broken, if “boob” will not show any results when SafeSearch is active. This is just one of the many examples we could use to make the point.

Although censorship may be too strong of a term for this algorithm change, it is now very hard to find porn using Google, regardless of SafeSearch settings. To address censorship concerns, CNET managed to get a response from the search giant:

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. 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.

But many users found the response unsatisfactory, debating that the whole purpose of safe search off is to find porn, without having to be too explicit in their queries. When the queries are explicit enough, Google is still not sure of user’s intent, and gives a warning:

google safesearch Google Censors Porn in Image Search

For many reporters, Google’s decision to make the search for porn harder is a possible win for Bing and competitor search engines. This would only work if porn was Google image search’s “bread and butter.” But this is not the case. Porn consumers already know where to go to find porn, and they don’t need Google image search for the purpose. Nevertheless, it is still puzzling that Google makes it more difficult for its users to find what they are looking for, when its declared purpose is to “show users exactly what they are looking for.”

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Mihaela Lica Butler is senior partner at Pamil Visions PR and editor at Everything PR. She is a widely cited authority on search engine optimization and public relations issues (BBC News, Reuters, Al Jazeera and others), with an experience of over 10 years in online PR.
2ee8ca79b96d3599428f78ee6d569530 64 Google Censors Porn in Image Search

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9 thoughts on “Google “Censors” Porn in Image Search

  1. Google did not come up with a new ‘algorithm’ in regards to the Safe Search feature, because when you compare ‘Safe Search’ to google.ca’s results or .co.uk results its the SAME results as moderate search. What did Google actually do? Not a damn thing besides censor its users. All they did was remove the American search engines ability to turn it off, making moderate search the only option for google.com, that or completely censored. And if you go to the .ca or .co.uk versions of the domain, and search for anything with the filter on, and compare it to default google.com’s search you will see for yourself – identical results! Because….. There is no magic algorithm.

    Google.com = Moderate Search as default, even with the filter turned off.
    Non-American Google Searches = The same search as the American one, when the filter is turned on. You turn it off? Completely different results!

    So yeah, there is no algorithm genius behind this new form of censorship which Google blatantly denies it is. All there can really be is you being locked into moderate search while other countries get to turn it off completely.

    Google is a joke, how dare them say they stand against censorship. They should leave China alone, they are worse than China because China is honest about being a dictatorship that censors the net, Google is the corporate entity smiling in our faces, saying they stand for the people and against online censorship and SOPA, then knifing us when we turn our backs and calling it an algorithm and they flat out deny it’s censorship. Rather than answer the questions of the people, they prop AYC up like Weekend at Bernies, as he is continuously pelted and barraged with endless streams of hate, and sock puppet generic responses through him as if he’s not even a real person but just a puppet on their hand as they ignore their user base’s distaste rather than give them legitimate answers! They don’t even answer the customers questions, you would think AYC is a bot rather than a living person.

    If you aren’t done with google now, you should be. Yahoo and Bing are much better.

  2. Google is full of sh**. As long as the filter is active, you can never be sure you’re seeing all the results. So you can include one keyword to make certain images show up. What about all the images that are being filtered because they DON’T match that keyword? Why should users have to play guessing games just to get the search results that they’re looking for? Who programmed their new UI, ex-employees of Infocom?

  3. “Although censorship may be too strong of a term for this algorithm change” – Of course it’s censorship:

    The primary definition of censorship: “suppression of published or broadcast material: the suppression of all or part of a play, movie, letter, or publication considered offensive or a threat to security”

    They are suppressing content they deem offensive from appearing for certain search terms. That is the definition of censorship.

    If Google allowed you to turn off this new feature, then it would merely be a filter that allows one to display results relevant for their personal taste. Without the ability to turn it off, it is censorship.

    Interestingly, a couple days ago, they started making this change to other countries as well (notably, the UK and Canada). However, within hours of starting the process, they stopped it and reverted back to the old Google image search. My guess, they realized they made a mistake after the uproar here in the US.

  4. GOOGLE has finally lost it! The biggest hypocrites in existence!!! How dare they take it upon themselves to FORCE CENSORSHIP for all people. Limiting search results is CENSORSHIP, there’s no other way to describe it.

  5. What I found strange was how clean the specific search for adult content turned out to be, too. It’s as if Playboy stepped in swapped out all the harder, more organic image results with nicer ones.

    I think the previous setup was just fine: filter on by default, or filter off by personal decree. End of story. But now it seems things have gotten a bit more involved.

  6. As I have done, you can change the default search in your iPad and Mac to Bing by going into the search settings in your Safari options. The best way to protest this censorship is to change your searchs from google to another search engine. I have found I have not missed google since switching.

  7. This is great news. Its been really difficult helping my kids do their homework (yes our school expect both our sons to do homework using the internet) without having porn shoved in their faces. Porn isn’t nudity – nudity is nudity and there is nothing wrong with that. I just don’t want my 10 year old being exposed to porn, and to be honest I don’t want to be exposed to it either. It will be nice when the internet is a little bit more family friendly and we can all enjoy it together. If people want to switch search engines to view porn, that is up to them – but the friendly google gets the more families and schools will be able to use the internet in safety. Its about time.