Like most search engines Google has always had a "safe search" option so that you wouldn't be inundated by questionable (aka porn) results when you are searching for images but they have apparently stepped up their game by making it harder to get adult content unless you are really, really, specific.
It's not hard at all these days when searching for images on any of the major search engines to suddenly find yourself faced with adult content that can even make me blush and quickly hit the next button. While search engines like Google and Bing offer a family type "safe search" option they sometimes fall short and let really questionable images escape into your results.
This is apparently why Google has decided to change, or modify, the way that its search engine handles safe searches. Where before you could turn SafeSearch on or off in your settings, Google has changed it so that it will only let you "filter explicit images" or "report offensive images" with the effect that even searching images with the keyword "porn" will only return you things like lollipops and funny images.
This new "feature" of Google was discovered reddit user Fake_Cakeday when he was doing an image search for a common sex term and in the ensuing discussion on reddit many were quick to fling the "censorship" word around. However, when asked by CNET Google had this to say regarding the change:
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.
Interestingly enough, several tech bloggers are making the point that this move by Google could lead to search engines like ICM Registry's Search.xxx and Microsoft's Bing scoring a win in this particular segment of web search.
So how do you feel about Google's efforts to "puritanize" your search result – especially if you don't want them to?