Finders Peepers: Google New Default XXX Image Blocking Draws Fire

13 Dec

Don’t be evil. That was Google’s motto for years. How people inside and outside of Google have interpreted it is very different. Those differing views are again colliding as Google changes how it shows image results for “adult” images.

Google has started to do something different when someone makes an “adult” image search request. Going forward Google is making users get more specific when searching for pornography using its search engine. And let’s face it, finding porn on the internet isn’t exactly hard to do.

Microsoft is not, at this point, altering it’s Bing search engine to do more enhanced filtering of generic pornographic search queries. We will see if Yahoo follows Bing’s or Google’s lead. There is also the alternative search.xxx for anyone’s pornography finding needs.

Google has released a statement regarding the change. A spokes person from Google has stated the following:

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.

I think people are really missing what Google is really doing here. Let’s get to the real meat of this statement. Google says it uses “algorithms to select the most relevant results for a given query.” In other words, when someone preforms a search Google is programmed to give the best results on what someone has requested. The more general the search request, the harder it is to get what the person requested. So another request is made to narrow down what the person is trying to find.

Now Google is requiring people looking for porn to think about what they are looking for and use words or phrases to narrow down their search to something more specific. This is a win for Google in multiple ways. The first, on a purely technical level, is the reduced load on their systems for performing the searches. Instead of a very broad search first search, it is more specific and should give a better chance of returning the desired results. Less work by the systems means less cost for Google for their “free” search service. Win number one.

There is however a second win for Google by doing this which I have not read anyone point out yet. It makes Google more money in its bread and butter money stream: advertising. If people are more specific in their searches the ads returned by Google in those search results are more targeted to the end user. This means a better chance of someone clicking those ads and a sale being created. Win number two.

And there is yet third way it makes Google money, by getting more specific search queries it has more specific data to refine its algorithms. The refinement of these algorithms makes Google’s search engine more efficient in returning relevant results. This gets more targeted advertising out to the users and in turn generates more money. Win number three.

Even better for Google is if someone is doing these type of searches while logged into their Google account or on their Android phone. Then those searches are associated with their Google account. Now the advertising and algorithm adjustments combined the second and third wins for Google.  Win number four.

Google image search filters worked perfectly fine before. People had three levels of adjustment: Safe, Normal or Off. Now there is only filtered and super filtered for general, broad pornographic searches (at least the limit is just there for now). Google may feel it’s not being evil and that might be true to some extent. Google isn’t trying to censor content the way some feel it might be doing. However, the real reason for the change boils down to one pretty obvious reason: money. Google is in the business to make money and lots of it. Nothing evil in doing that, legally. Though next time I would advise Google to be honest and tell us up front the reason for the change is to make more money. It would definitely not be evil being honest from the start.

Source –
Venture Beat

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