Okay so we all have probably experienced one of the following situations. We fired up Google Image search, entered a harmless search term like Peach Princess from Super Mario World, Banana, Ruby or Girlfriends (the TV Show) only to be greeted with explicit images that you were not expecting at all. That may not even have been a problem if you were of an appropriate age at the time of searching, as you simply could have refined the search term to make it clearer to the search engine what you are looking for.
But if you are a minor searching for these terms, you may have been in for the shock of your life - or not. Google apparently thinks so and decided to make a change to its image search engine that affects explicit images that it returns. Images that some search engine users may find offensive are only returned on explicit queries and not on broader queries. When you now search for Banana, you actually get to see pictures of Bananas in the search engine.
The same is true for the majority of other queries that are ambiguous, have explicit connotations or meanings, or are related to them.
That does not mean that the images are gone, or won't be returned anymore when you search Google Image. All you need to do is refine your search term to find the contents you are looking for. The first time you do, you may receive a notification about Google SafeSearch and that you can use it to filter explicit results.
What may be interesting in this regard is that it seems to only affect sexually explicit searches and not other types of explicit image searches like gore or violence which many say may be more damaging for someone to stumble upon than sexually related images.
Some say Google is censoring their results but that is not really the case. The company has just tweaked the algorithm to favor non explicit images for broader search terms.
If you think Google went too far, try Bing, their image search is pretty good all in all. What's your take on the change, good, bad or do not care?
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.