Once upon a time, you could get adult content when you queried Google Images for obvious search terms like “tits” and “vagina.” In a silent move, Google has turned that ease of search off, so now, unless you search “tits naked” or “vagina porn”, you’re going to get pretty safe for work images of women in slightly revealing tops for the “tits” and medical imagery for “vagina.”
Safesearch, as Gizmodo writer Sam Biddle states, is pretty much locked on. The engine has been scrubbed clean. “A Bing search for the same words,” Biddle adds, “gives up a world of raunch.”
In a statement to CNET about what was happening, a Google representative said, “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.”
Basically, if you want the adult content, you need to add the words “porn” to every search you’re making, otherwise, you’ll turn up nothing, even if you don’t have SafeSearch turned on.
CNET’s Casey Newton adds:
Google says the change simply brings image search settings in line with existing settings for Web and video search. But it’s worth noting that this move is unusual for a company that in every other case works to make it easier, not harder, for you to find the thing you’re looking for. The idea behind products like the Knowledge Graph and Google Now is that the company should bring you information with the least amount of effort possible. With its new image search settings, Google has identified one place where it wants users to work a bit harder.