Using AI to keep Google Search safe

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Steering clear of unexpected shocking content

Keeping you safe on Search also means helping you steer clear of unexpected shocking results. This can be challenging, because content creators sometimes use benign terms to label explicit or suggestive content. And the most prevalent content that matches your search may not be what you intended to find. In these cases, even if people aren’t directly seeking explicit content, it can show up in their results.

One way we tackle this is with SafeSearch mode, which offers users the option to filter explicit results. This setting is on by default for Google accounts for people under 18. And even when users choose to have SafeSearch off, our systems still reduce unwanted racy results for searches that aren’t seeking them out. In fact, every day, our safety algorithms improve hundreds of millions of searches globally across web, image and video modes.

But there’s still room for improvement, and we’re using advanced AI technologies like BERT to better understand what you’re looking for. BERT has improved our understanding of whether searches are truly seeking out explicit content, helping us vastly reduce your chances of encountering surprising search results.

This is a complex challenge we’ve been tackling for a while — but in the last year alone, this BERT improvement has reduced unexpected shocking results by 30%. It’s been especially effective in reducing explicit content for searches related to ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender, which can disproportionately impact women and especially women of color.

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