Child-friendly search engine weeds out adult content-
- Kiddle is a website using Google’s ‘safe search’ mode and editors
- Results are filtered so ‘safe’ sites are shown and descriptions are simple
- But users have spotted occasional racy images and inappropriate listings
- The word ‘gay’ is blocked and a user said it was listed as ‘bad word’
The internet may make homework a breeze for youngsters, but many parents worry their children may stumble across something inappropriate when searching online.
In a bid to solve this problem, a new search engine for children has launched called Kiddle.
Results are filtered so only ‘safe’ sites are shown and descriptions are written in simple language.
But it may not be as safe as it seems after tests reveal the occasional racy image can slip through the net, while searches containing ‘bad words’ are blocked – controversially including the word ‘gay’.
‘Sites appearing in Kiddle search results satisfy family friendly requirements, as we filter sites with explicit or deceptive content,’ the company explained.
It uses the same colours as Google in its logo and a similar layout on its homepage too – with the addition of a robot illustration.
Under the heavily filtered system, the top three Kiddle search results show ‘safe sites and pages written specifically for kids’ with those shown ‘handpicked and checked by Kiddle editors’ the company said.
While Kiddle has not been created by Google, it uses the search engine’s ‘safe search’ mode, as well as editors to weed out inappropriate content. A search for Isis was blocked and yielded this message
The company said: ‘Sites appearing in Kiddle search results satisfy family friendly requirements, as we filter sites with explicit or deceptive content.’ For example, a child-focused review of The Revenant is listed instead of a gory trailer or blow-by-blow account of the adult film
HOW DOES KIDDLE WORK?
Kiddle uses a combination of filtering by Google safe search and editors to ensure no explicit content is shown in search results.
Its ‘guard robot’ blocks some searches, such as ‘porn’ completely.
The first three results shown are typically safe sites ‘written specifically for kids’ the company says on its ‘about’ page. The results are checked by human editors.
The fourth to seventh results are usually not written specially for children but have content that is simple to understand.
Results eight and onwards tend to be from sites intended for adults.
MailOnline observed many top results for celebrities come from biography.com.
Kiddle’s about page says that results typically fourth to seventh on a page will be ‘safe, trusted sites that are not written specifically for kids, but have content written in a simple way’.
They too are said to be picked and checked by Kiddle editors.
Results listed eighth and onwards are ‘safe, famous sites that are written for adults, providing expert content, but are harder for kids to understand,’it says.
For example, a search for Khloe Kardashian and Miley Cyrus produces less raunchy results on Kiddle than it does on a normal Google search.
When searching for ‘meow meow’, Google produces pages of information about the drug, but Kiddle lists information about cats, including a cartoon featuring ‘Henrietta Pussycat’.
Typing in ‘Isis’ produces no results at all in Kiddle, with the search engine saying: ‘Oops, looks like your query contained some bad words. Please try again!’
When searching for meow meow, Google produces pages of information about the drug, but Kiddle lists information about cats (results shown above)
Under the filtered system, the top three Kiddle search results show ‘safe sites and pages written specifically for kids’ with those shown ‘handpicked and checked by Kiddle editors’ the company says. In comparison, this is Google’s listing for the term ‘meow meow’ which only yielded information about cats on Kiddle
However, controversially, the site blocks the word ‘gay’ too, with one Twitter user claiming the search term was described as a ‘bad word’.
‘ We have nothing against LGBT community, but such search terms as “gay” bring up many links that are very hard to verify against family friendly standards for artificial intelligence, especially when it comes to image and video sections,’ it said.
‘We had many complaints when we had search these terms open.
‘For kids, such topics are better searched upon parental and teacher supervision.’
Kiddle also blocks explicit search terms such as ‘porn’ as well as certain celebrities whose names could lead to adult content being displayed.
A few racy images do slip through the net, though, with a thumbnail of Pamela Anderson showing the actress wearing her famous Baywatch swimsuit, for example.
It’s also been reported that searches for Vanessa Hudgens brought up naked image references, but MailOnline did not find this.
A few racy images do slip through the net, with a thumbnail of Pamela Anderson showing the actress wearing her famous Baywatch swimsuit, for example. A screenshot of a search result on Kiddle is shown above
Twitter user Nate Smith in Pennsylvania searched for ‘rabbits’ only to find mention of a pet being killed.
A Kiddle spokesman told MailOnline: ‘Since Kiddle uses Google’s Safe Search technology as part of our algorithms, sometimes a questionable link (mostly PG-13) comes through.’
It said results such as the Vanessa Hudgens naked image mention, ‘slipped through the safe search filers’.
The company, based in the US and the Netherlands, said it removed them an hour after complaints were submitted through its feedback system.
‘At 300,000 searches a day Kiddle is getting, such complaints are rare and violating pages and sites are quickly removed by our editors,’ the spokesman added.
Unlike on Google, most results are accompanied with large thumbnail pictures to make it easier for children to find what they are looking for.
A large Arial font is used that is designed to be easy to read.