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Google patents porn search tweaks

Google is looking to snag itself a bigger chunk of a major technological driving force - the adult entertainment market - with a patent on pornography search technologies.

The patent, issued to Google yesterday and entitled 'system and methods for detecting images distracting to a user,' seems innocent at first glance. The abstract describes it thus: "The method includes monitoring the behavior of a user with respect to a group of images that are related in some manner to a query, and using the monitored behavior to calculate the distractiveness of a particular image."

Digging deeper into the patent, however, Google's real aim becomes clear: making it easier to search for pornography on the Internet.

"It is to be appreciated by those skilled in the art," the patent claims, "that, with relation to Internet search engines, the most selected links tend to be pornographic in nature.

"Just as with humorous images, the user tends to select pornographic images out of curiosity. Thus, the most distracting images tend to be pornographic in nature.

"Instead of measuring the selection rate across all independent queries or query classes, the selection rate across all non-pornographic queries can be used to measure distractiveness score.

"This takes into account that, when a pornographic query is used, pornographic images are sought. One skilled in the art can, within their own experience, surmise what a pornographic query is."

While the patent application falls short of detailing precisely what these pornographic search terms might be, leaving it up to the reader's imagination, it's clear that the patent's authors - Olcan Sercinoglu and Simon Tong - had something on their mind during its creation.

The outcome of the methods described in the patent would, Google hopes, be improved quality of searches for both non-pornographic and pornographic images.

Clearly, this is a technology that people are going to spend a lot of time in a darkened room testing.

The full patent application, which was originally filed back in 2004, can be read over at the USPTO website (opens in new tab).

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