Why Doesn’t Google Block All Offensive Words?

This is a good question and one I have seen asked many times on several different forums during the last year.

To give you a little background here, Google has a Safesearch option that filters out adult images and adult web pages, it’s not 100% accurate but is pretty good for an automated program.

One thing you will notice with Safesearch is they do not block you (or your children) from actually searching for all adult words. You can try it now and a search for [ anal sex ] will show a set of results, so will the word [ kill ] or [ killer ].

What’s Going On – Why Isn’t Google Blocking These Search Terms?

Google doesn’t place a carpet block on all search terms that could be considered adult or offensive, instead they create filters to weed out the adult search results (only when Safesearch is enabled). By creating a filter they can get feedback from users via their content removal tool and make future improvements/iterations to the program.

With each iteration the program gets smarter. It looks for characteristics that adult pages have, i.e adult or swear words, what types of pages this site is linking to and generally what type of “neighbourhood” this site is in. They also use image recognition software to detect sexual content.

There are several reasons why they do not block you from searching specific words like [ sex ] or [ killer ].

Here are a couple of examples; Somebody may not wish to see pornographic images but may want to research the health risks associated with anal sex. A searcher may want to find moss killer chemicals and may only type [ killer chemicals ] or [ moss killer ].

Both of these searchers would be dissatisfied if Google applied a carpet block on certain keywords.

What This Means For Parents

All parents should be aware that Google’s Safesearch filter doesn’t prevent children from searching for adult and sexual words, instead it just weeds out the worst results and most of the images.

Even the strict setting only blocks some words – those that are frequently used in the adult entertainment industry.

Many parents will still find some the content objectionable. For example a search for [ anal sex ] currently shows several books on how to best enjoy and engage in this activity. The books are genuine and not pornographic in nature but still, many parents would have an issue with this content appearing after activating Safesearch.

Reporting Content To Google

Google’s removal tool is the best place to report adult content that appears when Safesearch is activated. It won’t affect the unfiltered results but if Google agrees with your request, the material should disappear from the Safesearch set of results.

One should always bear in mind that everyone will have a different opinion on what is “adult” and “objectionable” content. Some liberal parents would be happy to see informative sex guides appear in the results, other more conservative parents may have an issue with any document that provides any information about anal sexual activities.

The decision is ultimately down to Google, although there are other options for parents to consider:

Try another search engine (Yahoo! is stricter)

Try to manually monitor online activities (constantly or by occasionally checking history)

Set strict controls on browsers and mobile devices

Join an online safety site such as those listed here.

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