CYBERSPACE—As reported in September, Google Instant launched with certain adult-related terms censored from the instant results. They could be accessed manually, but not without proactive action. Apparently, Google has now also imposed a similar restriction on Google Images searches, blocking search terms that suggest sexual images from appearing in the drop down.
It wasn’t always this way. Up until last week, search results in Images would return all sorts of suggestive suggestions. Typing in a “g,” for instance, would result in returns offering “girls without dresses,” “girls breast feeding each other” or “girls in bathrooms,” as Search Engine Land reported last week.
What a difference a week makes.
According to a Huffington Post article today, “Google Images' X-rated alphabet appears to have been tweaked up in the days since then. In the slideshow below, we've included screenshots of the suggestions offered by Google Images on October 19, versus those displayed on October 25. The ones taken at a later date are far more mundane, with search suggestions like ‘Zac Efron nasty pictures’ or ‘Shakira no clothes’ nowhere to be found.”
A Google spokesperson sent the following comment to the Huffington Post following initial posting of the story.
"We take an algorithmic approach to exclude a narrow class of search queries related to pornography, violence and hate speech,” s/he said. “This system is neither perfect nor instantaneous, and we continue to make updates and improvements."
While one assumes that Google is working hard to maintain a balance between excluding suggestions that promote porn and making sexy but non-pornographic images all but invisible to search queries, not everyone will see the new change as an improvement, and it remains to be seen whether Google’s users are served by the changes. Time will definitely tell with this one.
In the meantime, people who use Google Images to help market their adult-related photos, websites and products will no longer have their images suggested during search queries, and that’s kind of a bummer.