Google SafeSearch will blur NSFW image results by default

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Porn and other sexually explicit images will be automatically blurred when they are found via Google searches, even for users that do not have SafeSearch enabled, as part of a new default safety setting to be added to the world’s most-used internet search engine.

The move, announced as part of Google’s Safer Internet Day in the first week of February, is set to take place “in the coming months”, the company said. As well as sexually explicit images, graphically violent images will be blurred on the new default setting.

Google users of any age will be able to change their settings to fully disable SafeSearch, in which case the image blurring does not occur, unless their account is set to be supervised by a parent, school or administrator.

A Google spokesperson told The Verge that unless you use a supervised account, you’ll be able to choose for explicit search result images to be blurred, filtered out, or shown as normal.

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Supervisors of children’s Google accounts, such as parents or guardians, will be able to change the settings on the child’s account so the child can block their own access to certain apps and websites.

It’s not tough to imagine minors easily circumnavigating such measures to access non-blurred images via Google searches once the measures are rolled out, by using other people’s Google accounts or just accessing the search engine without signing into their account.

Although search filters that stop explicit content appearing in Google image searches can already be activated, it could be that the new function’s most powerful impact will be reducing the amount of ‘accidental’ explicit pics that pop up in searches.

The move has already been greeted by some as a step forward for protecting minors from supposedly harmful explicit content online.

Dawn Hawkins, CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, tweeted: “No more porn popping up on Google Search! Thank you Google! You finally listened to survivors, parents, and so many individuals!”

Read next:‘Google treats us like porn’: Lelo joins chorus of complaints against Big Tech’s treatment of sextech

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Jamie F
Jamie F

Jamie is a freelance writer, contributing to outlets such as The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, CNN and Vice, among others. He is also the creative force behind the Audible podcast Beast Master.

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