November 23, 2005 3:20 PM PST

Google fixes glitch that unleashed flood of porn

A technology glitch temporarily turned Google's new personal listings service, Google Base, into a vast, virtual red-light district earlier this week.

Launched last week, Google Base is the search company's foray into free classified listings and other user-generated content. Anyone can use the service to classify and post all kinds of information, from business services and used cars for sale to recipes and photos.

Google Base allows adult content but should filter most of it if visitors use the company's SafeSearch feature, which blocks pornographic material from appearing in search results. That wasn't the case earlier this week, however, due to a technical glitch that allowed porn to leak into Google Base search results.

"Yesterday evening, we became aware of a problem with the Google Base SafeSearch feature and we acted quickly to resolve the issue," Google spokesman Nate Tyler said via an e-mail on Wednesday. He said the filter feature was broken for "some period of time," but declined to further specify.

Todd Ripley, a real estate investor in Asheville, N.C., noticed the problem on Tuesday morning after he uploaded photos of his 2-year-old daughter Jasmine onto his Google Base page. He planned to direct his family to the page but decided against it after a search for "Jasmine" turned up some unsavory results despite the use of the SafeSearch filter.

"I was just shocked," Ripley said. "I was inundated with page after page after page of basically porn sites."

With the filter turned off, the amount of adult content on Google Base was staggering considering Google only launched the tool a week ago. A News.com search on the terms "XXX" and "XXX webcam" turned up more than 14,000 results each, including numerous listings under "XXX teen webcam."

Several bloggers were also surprised by the amount of porn on the new service.

"Holy crap, there is a lot of porn at Google Base!" Nathan Weinberg wrote in his Inside Google blog. "Looks like, just like Google Images, Google Base could become a huge source of porn, and eventually a place where porn will be sold. I even noticed some movie reviews."

A search for porn on Wednesday turned up far fewer results than on Tuesday. Google's spokesman was unaware of whether the company had removed any listings, but said adult content makes up a small part of the information on Google Base.

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Best advertising they can get
You just know that after this story broke their traffic probably doubled :-)
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