Say hello to Kiddle: the child-protecting search engine

Remember “celebgate” – the widespread hack of hundreds of iCloud accounts which saw the internet flooded with intimate pictures of Jennifer Lawrence, Rihanna and a whole host of others?

Google certainly does. A search for celebgate returns over 360,000 results.

Take that same search term over to Kiddle – the new child friendly search engine that filters out the filth – and what do you get? Nothing. Not a single result.

That’s because Kiddle, which has a Google Custom Search bar embedded in the site, filters out all adult content.

Some search terms return no results while others, such as “spank” or “Pamela Anderson” make the cartoon robot glower from the search engine’s moon-based theme as it tells you that you tried to search for “some bad words.”

“Try again,” says frowny robot.

So I do, using a not-so-safe version of Google search, and, um, yes, I can see how some parents might think Kiddle is a good idea.

But as Sky News reports, Kiddle doesn’t stop everything that might stain the innocence of youth.

Depending on what content discomfits parents, these items might or might not prove problematic, for example:

  • A search on “rabbit” returns a story about a real-life Wallace and Gromit monster bunny stalking a UK village, where it faces a shoot-to-kill policy.
  • A search on “Kardashian baby” delivers a photo of Kourtney Kardashian apparently delivering her own baby, pulling the mucus-slimed miracle out from between her thighs in a scene that’s sure to spark hours of lively dinnertime conversation. Maybe over roast bunny.

Kiddle says that it uses Google safe search or manual selection to ensure that search results satisfy family friendly requirements, as “we filter sites with explicit or deceptive content.”

It also offers the ability for users to request additional keyword or site blocking.

For each query, it returns results in this order:

  1. Safe sites and pages written specifically for kids. Handpicked and checked by Kiddle editors. Typically, these rank as results 1-3.
  2. Safe, trusted sites that are not written specifically for kids, but have content written in a simple way, easy for kids to understand. Handpicked and checked by Kiddle editors. Typically, results 4-7.
  3. Safe, famous sites that are written for adults, providing expert content, but are harder for kids to understand. Filtered by Google safe search. Typically, results 8 onwards.

When it comes to censoring the internet to protect children, we ran a poll a few years ago, asking readers whether it would work.

About 80% of readers said no.

We were, at the time, reporting about the UK government’s criticism of ISPs and search engines: Prime Minister David Cameron had said that they were falling short of their moral obligations when it comes to identifying or removing illegal images of abuse.

Kiddle is different. Kiddle is a curated feed, for kids, that parents can choose to have their kids use, or not, as opposed to state-sanctioned censorship.

What do you think? Is Kiddle a step in the right direction towards protecting our kids online? Does it go too far? Or not far enough? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.