In the upcoming months, SafeSearch filtering technology will be enabled by default for all users, according to a recent announcement from Google. The filter is made to prevent users from unintentionally coming across explicit imagery on Search and endangering themselves and their families. In honor of Safer Internet Day, the search engine behemoth claims to be announcing the feature today.
Those who don’t already have the SafeSearch filter turned on will soon see this setting as the default. Google will therefore obfuscate any explicit images that appear in search results. Results that are explicit may contain graphic violence and pornographic material. Users can change the setting at any time, according to Google. The filter was already activated by default for logged-in users under 18 prior to this expansion.
Google will let you know when it activates SafeSearch blurring and sets it as the default setting. By selecting the “view image” button when you come across an explicit image, you can decide whether to view it. Alternately, you can choose the “manage setting” button to change the filter’s settings or turn it off completely. For example, you can select the “filter” option to help filter offensive text, images, and links. Alternately, you can choose the “off” option, in which case you will see all relevant results for your query, regardless of whether they are explicit.
It’s important to note that SafeSearch only functions on Google search results; other search engines or websites that you visit directly will not have their explicit content blocked by SafeSearch. While SafeSearch isn’t always accurate, according to Google, it does assist in removing explicit content from search results for all of your queries across images, videos, and websites.
In August 2021, Google first made SafeSearch the default setting for signed-in users under the age of 18; this was around the same time that Congress began pressing tech companies like Google and others about the potential harms their services may cause to children.
Given that not everyone uses Google while logged into an account, which means the filter may not be enabled for them even if they are under 18 years of age, Google is making it easier to ensure that children and teens do not come across explicit imagery by making its SafeSearch filtering on by default for all users. Additionally, the expansion makes the feature known to people who might not have otherwise known about it but might find it useful. Of course, you can always simply turn off the filter in your settings if you don’t want to use it.
When people aren’t specifically looking for explicit or suggestive content, Google said last year that it was beginning to use AI to improve its ability to remove it from Search results. Google still makes an effort to reduce unwanted explicit content from searches where finding racy content wasn’t the goal, even when the SafeSearch filtering technology is disabled. But the BERT AI system now aids Google in determining whether users were looking for explicit content.