Using Google to search for pornography? Your job just got a lot more difficult.
As an intrepid Reddit user discovered, searching for terms that should lead to adult content on Google's image search show content that is less X-rated than some might anticipate even with SafeSearch turned off.
When user Fake_Cakeday did an image search for a common sex act, he got back photos of lollipops, microphones and funny (but not explicit) images.
Google has a SafeSearch filter that does its best to make sure explicit images don't get into search or image results. However, the new results appear whether SafeSearch is turned on or off.
So what's the story, Google? CNET got this 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."
In other words, users must be very clear in their search that they do want to see explicit content in order for those images or results to surface regardless of SafeSearch settings.
In our tests, we were able to get images of the sex act that Reddit user was looking for. But it took a slightly more direct approach "woman giving [ACT]" for the results to show up.
Even then, we were still greeted with a pop-up from Google alerting us that the content might be explicit and that we could adjust our settings. Clearly, Google is taking the position that its own algorithms are capable of determining user intent.
Rival Search Engines Swoop In
Google's decision to make certain content more difficult to find opens up an opportunity for other search engines to fill the gap.
Search.xxx is an adult content-only search engine created by ICM Registry. That company's CEO, Stuart Lawley, had this to say about Google's new default:
"We are still digesting exactly what this will mean in real world search queries for the porn-searching consumer, but this seems to continue a trend we have seen in recent months by the major search engines towards adult content. Google's decision only serves to reinforce the purpose and usefulness of what ICM Registry has been building: a destination for those adult consumers looking for high quality content."