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December 17, 2012

Google Overhauls SafeSearch, Makes Explicit Content Harder to Find

Those searching for porn on Google will now have to be a little more explicit — pun intended — in their queries.

Google’s SafeSearch setting and images search algorithm was updated late last week to keep nudity and porn out of search results unless specifically asked for.

“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,” Google said in a statement to CNet.

“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.”

Before the change, users could choose from three different levels of search via the SafeSearch drop-down menu.  The choices were strict filtering, which restricted adult content, moderate, which was the default setting and no filtering.

The change now means there are only two choices — keep the SafeSearch on or turn it off.

Even with the SafeSearch off, which is the new default option, a search does not turn up much explicit content unless the search query itself is explicit.

In short, make sure you turn off your SafeSearch, and use words like porn or nude to get X-Rated results.

Google’s change to SafeSearch has upset some users as evidenced by posts on Google Groups and Reddit.

“You can take away our privacy, but if you mess with porn, the Internet is going to be MAD,” wrote Okeman.

User ComeBackShane agreed:If they got rid of all the porn on the Internet, there would only be one website left, and it would be titled “BRING BACK THE PORN!”

Others, however, are applauding the update, including Russ Warner, president and CEO of ContentWatch.

“It’s nice to see Google improving SafeSearch to help families. We urge parents to use SafeSearch,” he said. “Even an innocent Google search can turn up all sorts of inappropriate content. Unfortunately, SafeSearch is not 100 percent accurate, but if parents pair it with a dedicated Internet filter, they are much more likely to get the protection their families need.”