About 1% Web Deemed Pornographic; Filters More Than 90% Effective

About 1% of Web sites indexed by Google and Microsoft are sexually explicit, according to a U.S. government-commissioned study. The study concludes that the strictest filter tested, AOL's Mature Teen, blocked 91% of the sexually explicit Web sites in indexes maintained by Google and Microsoft's MSN. (AP report)

Filters with less restrictive settings blocked at least 40% of sexually explicit sites, according to the study of random Web sites by Philip B. Stark, a statistics professor at University of California, Berkeley. Other key findings from Prof. Stark's study include:

  • Filters are more than 90% effective. 
  • Stark also examined a random sample of search-engine queries. He estimated that 1.7% of search results at AOL, MSN and Yahoo are sexually explicit and 1.1% of Web sites cataloged at Google and MSN fall in that category.
  • About 6% of searches yield at least one explicit Web site, and the most popular queries return a sexually explicit site nearly 40% of the time.
  • Filters blocked 87% to 98% of the explicit results from the most popular searches on the Web
  • About half the sexually explicit Web sites found in the Google and MSN indexes are foreign, making them beyond the reach of U.S. law. 

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