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Child-safe internet search returns some ‘worrying’ results

Mon 29 Feb 2016

Kiddle child-friendly search engine

In a bid to protect young internet users from inappropriate content, a new visual search engine designed for children has launched this week.

Kiddle.co filters its results so that only ‘safe’ sites are displayed and page descriptions are written in simple language. It also claims to get rid of indecent images and ‘bad words.’ However, tests have revealed that the odd risqué image will still slip by into the listings. The words ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ have also controversially been removed from the ‘child-friendly’ platform. Other reports have claimed that references to killing rabbits, naked images of Vanessa Hudgens and Khloe Kardashian’s sex tape have slipped into the results. Kiddle confirmed that this content had been removed shortly after.

Although Kiddle, based in the U.S. and the Netherlands, is a separate and unrelated venture to Google, the system uses the web giant’s safe search mode in addition to its own team of human editors to pick out the unsuitable content. The site design is very similar to Google, with a familiar choice of colours and layout. Unlike Google, results are accompanied by large thumbnail pictures making them more attractive and easier for children to understand.

‘Sites appearing in Kiddle search results satisfy family friendly requirements, as we filter sites with explicit or deceptive content,’ the company explained. It added that under the new search system, the top three results would show safe sites only, with descriptions ‘handpicked and checked by Kiddle editors.’ Results four to seven will display safe, trusted pages, written in simple language, but may not specifically be written with kids in mind. These pages too will be selected by the Kiddle editors. The eighth result and onwards will be safe and well-known sites written for adults, and may be ‘harder for kids to understand.’

Furthermore, Kiddle has assured parents that it does not gather any personal information and that it deletes its logs every 24 hours.

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