Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

No Nudes For You: Google Instant's Erratic Prudish Streak

Google’s new “Instant” search feature can read your mind. But if you’re thinking about something dirty, it doesn’t want to know.

Or, more accurately, it doesn’t want to tell you about it: The search engine gets heavy use from people looking for “adult” topics (duh), but, for fairly obvious reasons, Google doesn’t want to fill your results page with naughty stuff if you’re not seeking it out.

But that does mean that in some cases people with more-innocent search queries won’t get Instant results.

Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan spends some time walking through Google Instant’s (intentionally) blind spots–if you’re looking for the excellent “Naked Gun” movies, you’ll be out of luck, he notes. Same goes for Picasso’s “Blue Nude,” etc.

And of course, since Google (GOOG) is not actually infallible, Sullivan points out some instances where its censor misses some targets. For instance, “Demi Moore Bush” is not about the actress’s political views. Sullivan ultimately takes the logical step and types in all of George Carlin’s seven words to see how many produce results. Well worth looking at his piece to see how it turns out.

Meantime, here’s Carlin’s famous bit, and you can figure out on your own if it’s safe for work.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus