It has long been said you can’t judge a book by its cover. In the case of search engines such as Google, any service offered as a free convenience should give you pause; such is the case with certain “safe” search features. Whether consumers realize it or not, Google’s safe search has been flawed for some time. The feature, which protects users from explicit content while conducting a search online, has not delivered on its claims when images were searched online.

The global search engine is now working hard to remedy that. As 3Ci recently reported, Google has implemented stricter “safe search” to features already in place. These changes will prohibit a person from being subjected to explicit photos when conducting an image search.

As a leading global online reputation management firm, 3Ci evaluates prospective clients and projects. Often, requests are received for help in removing offensive images, including those that are explicit. Most people turning to Internet search results for information have a defined goal for the search. When offensive images are presented it not only causes embarrassment, but can also create very real issues when seen in a work environment. This kind of content is obviously even more unacceptable when a child is present.

In response to these issues, Google is tightening up its default options for the image search section of its site. These changes will now provide a user experience in the basic web search section of its site. The change isn’t without its controversy however; some consumers are already complaining about censorship and First Amendment rights.

Google points out this change is far from censorship. To alter search filter options, users can easily go to google.com/preferences and set results to be as open or closed as they prefer. Safe Search simply prevents those unexpected images from appearing initially. If a person conducting a search determines results aren’t quite precise enough, he or she will only need to make the results more specific to get the desired openness.

3Ci has found that most clients want accurate, transparent and truthful search results while remaining protected from lewd and embarrassing content. In order to maintain freedom of speech and information, the Internet must be as open as possible, but for most consumers, this doesn’t extend to explicit photos and information. By tightening restrictions, Google is providing a safer environment for all of its users and thus more completely delivering a service that is appreciated.