Google could take a lesson from Bing on porn

Google could take a lesson from Bing on porn

Summary: There...I've said it. I'm filled with self-loathing for saying it, but Bing's new approach (and the speed with which they rolled it out) is a model for easy avenues to block objectionable content.

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There...I've said it. I'm filled with self-loathing for saying it, but Bing's new approach (and the speed with which they rolled it out) is a model for easy avenues to block objectionable content. How many schools/libraries block the entire images.google.com domain because their content filtering isn't sophisticated enough to keep kids from seeing thumbnails they really shouldn't see? Bing, on the other hand, now makes it a no-brainer to keep this content out of their search engine, regardless of the security settings.

As pointed out on CNet and the Bing Blog,

irst, potentially explicit images and video content will now be coming from a separate single domain, explicit.bing.net. This is invisible to the end customer, but allows for filtering of that content by domain which makes it much easier for customers at all levels to block this content regardless of what the SafeSearch settings might be...

...In addition, we will begin returning source url information in the query string for images and video content so that companies who already use this method of filtering will be able to catch explicit content on Bing along with everything else they are already blocking for their customers.

You don't get much easier than that. Block explicit.bing.net and keep doing what you're doing blocking adult websites. It's a no-brainer. Sure, some content filters handle Google's thumbnails well, but the average content filter included with a home router or present in many schools simply isn't that sophisticated.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not going to be blocking Google and making my users (or my kids) use Bing anytime soon. I'm a big ol' Google fan and I think it's an important tool to teach kids to use responsibly and well. We're inches from rolling out Google Apps for Education in our district, so the GOOG isn't going anywhere. However, this utterly straight-forward approach to making Bing kid/teacher/parent/school/library-friendly is a welcome bit of no-nonsense, fix-the-customer's-problems goodness from a company not that well-known for fixing customer problems in a timely manner.

Topics: Security, Enterprise Software, Google, Software

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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47 comments
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  • Missed it by THAT much...

    That's great and all, except it gives a false
    sense of security. If Microsoft's filters of
    explicit content was perfect, there'd be no
    reason to block a "domain"... one would just
    need to use Microsoft's filtering. Clearly,
    Microsoft's filtering isn't perfect. Some
    explicit content isn't known to be explicit by
    their algorithms. Some perfectly find content
    is marked as explicit. So, when schools block
    Bing's special "explicit" domain... they won't
    see legitimate non-explicit images, therefore
    losing access to potentially valuable
    information... and they may still see explicit
    content on the "safe" domain. When this
    happens, schools will just have TWO domains to
    block.
    BIGELLOW
    • Well..

      By your logic, no filtering (Google) is better than almost 100% filtering (Bing).

      Using Bing, these organizations could block probably 98% of content and still let people search for images instead of blocking the entire image search.

      Search engines aren't perfect, and content that isn't blocked will be at some point down the road.
      TylerM89
      • Wrong

        Google *has* filtering, which is *enabled* by default.

        The OP is claiming that putting all explicit content on a separate domain gives schools an easy way to block the content, just block the domain...

        But the commenter you're responding too is pointing out that you're *still* relying on someone's filters to put the content on a separate domain, so it's really not that much better.
        irwinr12
  • RE: Google could take a lesson from Bing on porn

    Why are you implying that Google doesn't filter?
    Bing's filtering is nothing new. Google has been
    filtering for years. In fact, recent tests have shown
    that while Google's filtering mechanism isn't perfect,
    it's better than Bing's. The only difference is,
    Google doesn't use a secondary domain for the content
    that is filtered (because they don't show it to begin
    with.)

    Any decent software that can filter based on domain
    names can also prevent the turning off of SafeSearch
    on Google. Most decent software already has this
    capability. So, at best, the fact that Bing puts
    naughty content on a separate domain only helps those
    who have poor filters to begin with, which can only
    filter on a domain-by-domain basis. I'm not knocking
    this, but it isn't exactly the jaw-dropping event of
    the year. It's a nice gesture, but it falls short
    from truly being useful. It would only give a false
    sense of security to someone who expects that ALL bad
    content will be in this domain they are blocking.

    One thing that Microsoft is doing right, however, is
    responding to bad PR. Within the first week of Bing's
    release, people were complaining about the porn
    slipping past Bing's filters that were blocked by
    Google's. Microsoft responded quickly. In one
    example, a search for MOLLY WOOD (a prominent blogger)
    in Bing's image search used to show blatantly
    pornographic content (of a porn star which happened to
    have the same name.) Within days, Microsoft blocked
    searches for MOLLY WOOD in image search unless you
    chose to turn off their search filters. Turning off
    the search filters, however, showed lots of
    pornographic content. This worked, but it was a
    terrible solution. Now, days later, the search works
    and the content is fairly clean. So, Microsoft
    definitely is putting a lot of man-hours into this.

    In my opinion, however, it's too little too late.
    Microsoft has been in the search market for years.
    First, with MSN search... then with Live search... and
    now with Bing. Why are they still trying to figure
    out how to do this? Sure, Google has had a head start
    in terms of years... so, it's only fair to forgive
    Microsoft's mistakes in search... after all, Google
    has also stumbled on its path as well. However, every
    time Microsoft changes the name of their search
    engine, they also change the algorithms all over
    again. While in some areas, they take two steps
    forward... in other areas, they take three steps back.
    And, it is clear that they are throwing engineers at
    the problem to fix their PR problems quickly. While
    this is commendable, it also shows that they have no
    faith in their own algorithms.

    Bing is becoming the new Yahoo of the 90's. In the
    90's, Yahoo's search was completely managed by people.
    They didn't use algorithms. They used people. When a
    new site appeared, you needed to wait until Yahoo's
    staff got around to cataloging the site before it
    appeared in the index. While this ensured that the
    index was high quality, it also meant that Google
    (which relied entirely on algorithms to do the work)
    charged ahead. So then, to solve this problem, Yahoo
    integrated Google's algorithm into their search to
    fill in the gaps. This worked wonders for Yahoo, but
    also launched Google's credibility. When Yahoo pulled
    Google back out of its results, it was downhill from
    there for Yahoo and a huge win for Google.

    The only way Microsoft is going to be relevant is if
    they build something SIGNIFICANTLY better that
    Google's algorithms, not just mildly. A few tweaks to
    the interface, some miscellaneous features, and a
    bunch of engineers manually tweaking results when the
    media points out bad examples is not going to win the
    war in the long run. Microsoft is trying to get an
    infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of
    keyboards to race ahead of a well developed algorithm.
    For what purpose? There is nothing innovative about
    this. What Microsoft really needs to do is solve the
    natural language artificial intelligence problem.
    Until then, they're just delaying the inevitable.

    Don't get me wrong... I want Microsoft to succeed at
    this... not because I'm a fan of Microsoft, but
    because I'm a fan of innovation. I WANT this problem
    to be solved by SOMEONE. If it's Microsoft, great.
    If it's Google, great. If it's Yahoo... or Wolfram...
    or AOL... or Amazon... great. But, every time one of
    these corporation throws millions of dollars at the
    project and INSTEAD of trying to "solve the problem"
    just decides to "take share from the competition" then
    we all lose. We all sit around switching search
    engines that only get a tiny bit better each month.
    To what end? Will our children see the natural
    language artificial intelligence problem get solved in
    their lifetime? Our children's children? How long is
    this going to take? We may never solve this problem
    if corporations like Microsoft are only interested in
    chasing the competition instead of trying to actually
    solve the problem.
    BIGELLOW
    • Reality

      The thing is these business are after making money. If microsoft thinks
      they can make money without the artiica language thing your talking
      about off of search then they'll go for it!
      mathcreative
    • Yeah, well, you kow what they say about opinions. (nt)

      nt
      Hallowed are the Ori
    • You said

      You said
      ". In fact, recent tests have shown
      that while Google's filtering mechanism isn't perfect,
      it's better than Bing's."

      Links please.
      Stan57
  • RE: Google could take a lesson from Bing on porn

    Knowing M$'s abilities at doing things well, I'm sure half the relevant results will be part of 'explicit bing'. That's one of the reasons Google has done so well - all results in one place and let the user decided what he or she wants to click on.

    Rohan
    http://blog.rohandsa.com
    doomoo
    • All you did is to blame for nothing

      When MS did something good (like Xbox, win7 or bing?), we should applause. And when it did something that sucks (like Vista, WinMe), we should blame. Just don't mix your judgement.

      Apple did horrible at the beginning of 21st century, so what? Good products can eventually bring back the reputation.
      Gladiatorcn
  • I'm not sure you can turn the filter off...

    I did an informal test. Reading that "Molly Wood" brought up porn if you put it into Bing before they put the filter in, I decided to test it out. With the filters on "moderate", no porn came up. So far, so good. But I went a step further with it.

    I decided to turn the filters [i]off[/i] and do the same search. And what happened? [b]I got the same results![/b]

    What this seems to mean is that [i]all[/i] Bing content is filtered at least once, and then run through an [i]additional[/i] filter if the user wants it.

    Not good. Not good at all.

    bhartman36
    • re: I'm not sure you can turn the filter off...

      you must be doing something wrong. Tried the following on unfiltered (i have not turned anything off/on) bing search:

      Jenna jameson,
      Debbie Does Dallas, and
      xxxamateuer magazine

      and got hits.

      btw using your search term did you actually read the results? I mean, if you were trying to find out who Molly Wood was/is then you certainly did get a result - albeit not the one you wanted (because it does not exist) :)

      I hardly would think that an employee of CNet would be involved in porn.
      goldenpirate9
    • It appears to be a browser issue.

      I ran a test against the 5 browsers I have on my laptop: IE8, Firefox 3.x, Opera, Safari and Chrome:

      IE8 : Filter controls work
      Firefox : Filter controls work (though they can be crippled)
      Opera : Filter controls work
      Safari : Filter controls work
      Chrome : Filter controls work
      B.O.F.H.
  • Whose objectioal content?

    Are you looking for a net nanny or a search engine.
    bjbrock
    • As long as they allow children to see real beheadings...

      As long as the children (and their parents) are protected pictures (and videos) of naked bodies, because that would be objectionable! Luckily, Bing does not filter against them seeing such <a href=http://www.bing.com/search?q=beheading+videos&form=QBRE>content as the Nick Burg beheading videos (or other supposedly acceptable material)</a> and only restrict it to naked (probably female, maybe male) bodies!

      I am constantly amazed that torture and murder pictures and videos are more acceptable than something involving naked bodies or sex. There is (or has been) no call for that to be filtered!
      B.O.F.H.
      • it's america

        people have called out that double standard for years yet people still view breasts or any though of human sexuality as more harmful than acts of violence.

        my advice is to not raise children here.
        dend
        • Watched an ad from outside the US, was amusing.

          The scene takes place in some kids room, I don't recall the language it was in though I read the subtitles. The kid is watching some American cop show on TV, his mother knocks on the door and he switches the channel to some porn/graphically sexually explicit program. The mother enters the room and both proceed to have a conversation about how he kids day was, what he was doing, etc. After the mother leaves (closes the door), the kid switches back to the fictional cop show he was watching.

          So this feature is only really useful for Americans... ironic!
          B.O.F.H.
  • blasphemy!

    >>I?m filled with self-loathing for saying it

    So acknowledging that someone other than the almighty Google did something perhaps a little better or different is sacrilege? Thank goodness we all know this column is editorial.
    killerbunny
  • Those who restrict internet access are delusional!

    Bing is awful, Google image search shouldn't have a safe search option, and everybody should stop freaking out about humans having sex with each other. Why is sex okay to regulate, but violence isn't? Type in "atrocity", "war crime", or "mass grave" and you will see nauseating, graphic pictures of real humans who are real dead - humans who did not sign a consent form before the picture was taken. Everyone has the right to be naked, all adults have a right to consensual sex acts, and nobody needs to be sheltered. Child pornography - and the broader issue of child abuse (sexual or otherwise) - would be easier to address and prevent if the entire subject of sexuality wasn't hidden from children by well-intentioned imbeciles.
    qaliqo
  • RE: Google could take a lesson from Bing on porn

    Whose job it is to define "explicit"? Would you prefer to let someone in Redmond or Mountain View to decide what is "explicit"?

    Grow up and take responsibility to teach your kids what is appropriate and what is not!
    notest12
    • "I know it when I see it"

      Theres that old saying about obscene material being hard to define, but you know it when you see it.

      The point here is, you don't want kids seeing it in the first place, so someone is going to have to make that judgement for them.
      TheTruthisOutThere1