Google will soon obfuscate explicit image search results

new google "blur" The SafeSearch setting will soon be the default, blurring explicit images unless you're logged in and over 18.
Zoom in / Google’s new “Blur” SafeSearch setting will soon be the default, blurring candid images unless you’re signed in and over 18.

Eric Lawson

Google has just unveiled a new default SafeSearch setting, somewhere between “on” and “off,” that automatically dims explicit images in search results for most people.

In the timing’s blog post Safer Internet DayAnd Google has identified a number of measures It plans to implement “Protecting Democracies Worldwide,” securing high-risk individuals, improving password management, and protecting credit card numbers. Entering a series of small to medium ads is a noticeable change in search results, and it is Google’s second core product after advertising.

A new setting, which will be rolled out in the “coming months,” writes Google’s Gene Fitzpatrick, senior vice president of Core Systems & Experiences, “that will darken explicit images if they appear in search results when the SafeSearch filter is not turned on.” “This setting will be the new default for people who don’t already have the SafeSearch filter turned on, with the option to adjust the settings at any time.”

The Google pictogram (shown above) shows someone logged in and searching for “wound” images. A “Google has turned on the SafeSearch obfuscation” notification appears, which “blurs porn images in search results.” One of the sample image results — “Discrete Complex Blast Injury (DCBI)” from ResearchGate — is already quite straightforward, as far as human viscera and muscle are concerned. Google offers one last check if you click on that blurred image: “This image may contain pornographic content. SafeSearch obfuscation turned on.”

Candid photos, eg "blast injury" Shown in the Google example, it will be dimmed by default in Google Search Images, unless the user is over 18, logged in, and turns it off.
Zoom in / Explicit images, such as the “blast injury” shown in the Google example, will be blurred by default in Google search images, unless the user is over 18, logged in, and turns it off.

If you click on the “view image”, you will see the languid nature of life. If you click Manage setting, you can choose between three settings: Filter (where explicit results don’t show up at all), Obfuscate (where you click blurred and unconfirmed), and Off (where you see “all relevant results, even if honest”).

Logged in users under the age of 18 automatically have Enable SafeSearch, banning content including “pornography, violence, and gore”. With this change, Google will automatically obfuscate explicit content for everyone who uses Google who isn’t signed in, stays signed in, and specifically requests to be shown it instead. It’s a way to stop kids from accessing explicit images, but it’s also a way to ensure people are signed into Google if they’re looking for something very specific. It looks like an incognito window won’t do that.

Google has turned on SafeSearch as Default for users under 18 years of age in August 2021, after it came under pressure from Congress to better protect children across its services, including search and YouTube.

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