Google Update Makes Explicit Images Harder To Find
December 14, 2012

Image Search Updated By Google To Make Explicit Images Harder To Find

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Google rolled out changes to its image search engine on Wednesday that make it more difficult for people to inadvertently stumble upon pornography or other explicit pictures.

Reddit commenters were among the first to notice the changes, with many calling Google´s move an act of censorship -- a claim Google denies.

"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," the company said in a statement to several media outlets.

“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 most significant changes can be seen under Google´s "SafeSearch" mode, although some users have reported blocked images even when the “SafeSearch” setting was turned off.

Seattle-based CBS news affiliate KSTW reported that a pop-up warning appears anytime Google´s search algorithm detects a user is searching for sexually-explicit content for the first time.

But Google says its “SafeSearch” filter functions nearly the same as before the recent changes were made.

"We've simplified SafeSearch setting on image search and the new default behaves similarly to what most users had as the default previously," a Google spokeswoman told KSTW.

Google´s move could serve to drive some users to rival search engines such as Bing, or ICM Registry´s

“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,” said ICM Registry´s chief executive, Stuart Lawley, in an interview with VentureBeat.

“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.”

Google´s move comes amid new figures from comScore that show that the company grew its U.S. market share by 67 percent in November. Microsoft´s Bing saw its market share rise to 16.2% in November, up from 16% in October, while Yahoo´s U.S. market share fell from 12.2 percent in October to 12.1% in November, according to comScore´s figures.