Apparently not, if you are to believe what Google officials told CNET, but if you consider that a search for “boob” with SafeSearch on delivers no results… maybe Google lost its image search marbles?
This is one of the many terms that should never be regarded as “unsafe” for search by the world’s most relevant, and most powerful search engine. Boob, as a matter of fact, has two definitions:
A foolish or stupid person.
A woman’s breast.
Last time we checked, a breast was not porn. So maybe that someone who decided to label it as “unsafe for search” is a boob?
Apparently, Google wants image search users to work a bit harder if they want to find explicit images on Google Image Search. So hard that many users described the algorithm change as “censorship.” And while at it, Google still claims to be working hard for its altruistic purpose of showing “users exactly what they are looking for.” But is the search engine censuring results?
“We are not censoring any adult content, and want to show users exactly what they are looking for,” a Google official told CNET, and continued “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.”
All fine, but things don’t really work as Google planned. A query for “blow job” (SafeSearch off) shows these results:
But turn SafeSearch on by clicking on “filter explicit images” and all these funny, innocent results, are lost:
By all accounts, Google image search is broken. And it has not much to do with porn, but with a faulty algorithm, still based on text, when there is already intelligent technology available to scan and recognize pixels and to make sense of images beyond SEO tags. Maybe it’s time for Google to stop fixing what is not broken, and go for more innovation in search?