NEW YORK — Kiddle, a search engine designed to block content that’s not safe for children, unblocked certain words after receiving major backlash from users and activist groups.
The search engine is powered by Google safe search but not a product the tech company. Editors “handpicked and checked” words to make sure any terms that kids searched on the site will not have any explicit content.
All search results are said to be “kid-oriented.” When an “inappropriate” word is searched, a page will a robot will show up with the words: “Oops, try again!”
However, the site received major backlash after users discovered that words such as “menstruation,” “gay,” “lesbian,” “homosexual,” and “balls” were blocked from search. LGBT activist group Stonewall said the empty search results for these terms prevent children and preteens from getting valuable information they may find useful.
“Young people regularly use the internet to find information on LGBT issues, especially as age-appropriate and LGBT-inclusive SRE (Sex and Relationships Education) is still not compulsory in our schools. Many of these young people also feel unable to approach teachers or parents with their questions or concerns,” Stonewall wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.
“Attempting to stop young people searching for safe and age-appropriate content like this will force many young lesbian, gay, bi and trans people to seek it elsewhere,” the group wrote.
People on Twitter also voiced their outrage on the blocked words.
Kiddle said parents did complain about the words being blocked during its trial tests, according to the BCC.
“Most LGBT sites have forums and user generated content. Even one picture of a half naked man posted as an avatar on such sites (after the site has been vetted) is enough to turn away most parents,” Kiddle told the BCC.
“What is OK for a child of 12 may not be OK for a child of five,” the company said.
Users can also request for key words or sites to be blocked through a form on its website.
On Saturday, though, the previous terms that yielded zero results now populates a page of informational sites.