Monday, September 13, 2010

Did you know that Google censors your search even if you don't live in China?

Yes, it does.

Facebook gets flack for rolling out new, less private defaults on a regular basis.  It seems Google is not much better.

Google recently has offered Google “Instant.”  I’m not sure just what it is other than as you type your search it offers not just queries but possible results to what you were thinking of typing, of course based on what you’ve been surfing to and searching for.

Though not a privacy issue, did you know that you are signed up for “Instant” unless you turn it off?  You are and it’s a pain to drill down to where you can turn it off.  Very Facebook-like.

While I was searching, I discovered that the default Google search mode is to give me “moderate” censorship of whatever Google thinks are “explicit” sites.

“Use strict filtering (Filter both explicit text and explicit images)
Use moderate filtering (Filter explicit images only - default behavior)
Do not filter my search results”

The middle line is checked by default.

Now, I understand that kids use Google search.  And if I were a parent, I’d don’t think I’d want images or words sent willy-nilly to my kids.  But, shouldn’t Google tell me what it is doing and let me decide what I want for me and my family?

People talk about the “nanny state.”  I don’t have a problem with it, as long as I know what it is trying to do and can choose if I want it to “protect” me, or not.  Same with companies. 

OPT IN.  OPT IN.  Defaults should be full whatever with full disclosure of what it is.  You want different?  Choose it.


fermicat said...

The auto fill in has not produced many surprises, but I am surprised to hear that Google is sending me censored results based on what pops up on my screen for image search results. I would hate to see what it would send me if the filters weren't in place. It can be downright embarrassing if you are doing a search at work. Sometimes the most innocent search terms can produce some very twisted results. My office is right across the hall from a frequently used control room, and I have to be very careful about what ends up on my screen in order to maintain a professional image. I have to be ready to minimize the search window in an instant.

Big Mark 243 said...

Either way I think that all this information is being data mined and costing everyone a bit of personal freedom.

I am not sure I am ready for a 'nanny state'. Letting someone watch out for you is a short distance from them telling you what is best for you and eventually telling YOU what you are supposed to do.

Thomas said...

It seems like everything in this country has been dumbed down for the hypothetical 12-year-old that's been left unattended.