A screenshot of the search page in question. Top right shows that Yahoo! SafeSearch is ON. Inappropriate content has also been marked. Note that these are not the only ones, there are more on the same page itself. Pictures have been smudged here because the screenshot is only to reinforce the point of this blog post.
Remember that case when a school teacher told students to search for images with the search term ‘WWW’, and was shocked to see the results it turned up? Yahoo! had to face a lot of embarrassment about that. However, it seems that it isn’t enough for Yahoo! Search to pull up its socks.
For a project, I was searching for some information related to Greenpeace. I wanted some images of Greenpeace in news for that, so I tried to look it up on my fave, Yahoo! Image Search. Being a nice little kid, I have SafeSearch with the highest settings, so that all inappropriate / adult results are omitted. Imagine my shock, what the results show. There are quite a few very unrelated adult ones within the top results. Or if they somehow (I don’t know how that can be) they are related, then they shouldn’t show up anyway since SafeSearch should filter it out. And there are quite a few of them.
I immediately wrote to Yahoo! Search customer care about this. The answer I got back was far from encouraging.
Thank you for writing to Yahoo! Search.
You can choose to have explicit, adult-oriented images filtered out of your Yahoo! Image Search results by choosing “block adult content” on the Advanced Image Search page. You can also select “block explicit images” in your Search Preferences. To access your Search Preferences, click the “Preferences” link at: http://search.yahoo.com or click the link near the top of your Web results page to view and change your search settings.
Please remember that while the adult content filter removes many explicit images, it cannot guarantee that all adult-oriented images will be filtered out.
Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Customer Care.
Yahoo! Customer Care
For assistance with all Yahoo! services please visit: http://help.yahoo.com/
Point is, I had written specifically, stating that entering that search term throws up such results. And it is apparent from their reply (it’s unedited) that they’re only giving a standard reply without looking properly into the matter. The email did NOT offer a resolution, or promise that it would be carried out soon. It simply kept on harping how I should use SafeSearch, and how it can’t help all the time. I’m no novice here, I know how to activate it. And it’s true it may not work everytime, users are there to point out that, but what disappointed me was that they did not care to rectify the mistake. Once bitten twice shy? You are definitely not talking about Yahoo! here.
I like Yahoo! a lot; I accept that fact. It is clear from my other posts on this blog about their services. However, this disregard, I’d say for customer feedback (I’ve praised its customer care many times earlier) is certainly not something that I ever expected from Yahoo!, an entity which gives tips on how to protect children. It even has Yahoo!ligans to provide a safe area for children. Sadly, it didn’t pay attention to my email at least. It’s own house is not in proper order.
I, as a Yahoo! Search user, thus would like to know – is Yahoo! doing enough to protect children online? It has come under flak for that earlier, when it had to shut down chat rooms in Yahoo! Messenger. It’s time that Yahoo! made SafeSearch really safe. And the need is more pressing, since I believe thousands of environmentally conscious kids across the world may search for this term, and be exposed to potentially inappropriate content. The audience which may be affected is large, and something needs to be done soon.