Google has changed the default behavior of their image search to work similarly to how web search works. Now when you search for less explicit search terms while in image search, Google is more likely to filter out explicit images and set your default SafeSearch filter to the on position.
When I searched for the keyword [porn] in Google Image Search I was prompted with this warning to “Use the SafeSearch menu to filter explicit results.” It knew I searched for something explicit and was educating me on how to remove those results. Prior, Google didn’t give such a warning, instead they defaulted the searcher to “moderate” and let the user change it to completely off or to “strict.” Now, there are two options for the SafeSearch filter:
- Check “Filter explicit results” to filter sexually explicit video and images from Google search results pages, as well as results that might link to explicit content.
- Uncheck “Filter explicit results” to receive the most relevant results for your query, including explicit content when you search for it.
Google told CNET they made this change to be more inline with how web search filters this content. A Google representative told them:
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.
Not all searchers are happy about this change, as with any change Google makes. But users can still find plenty of adult related images when they uncheck the filter option.
Here is a video on SafeSearch:
For more on how SafeSearch works at Google, see this help document.