Naughty, naughty: Google Places turns up risqué photos for cosmetic surgery businesses

October 20th, 2011 by Search Influence Alumni


Google has a crackerjack team of people helping to make their products bigger and better all the time, or at least, that’s the impression we get from them. I just might have caught an embarrassing typo in Google Docs last week, but otherwise, they seem to be pretty much on the ball. That is, unless you visit their Places page, which apparently is hot to show you photos of women’s bare breasts and much more — if the place you’re looking for happens to be a cosmetic surgeon’s office.

Of course, the websites for most cosmetic surgeons feature a before and after page, but traditionally it takes some clicks to get to and obviously are not plastered all over the landing page. I’m sure some people would be impressed if they went to a doctor’s site and the first thing they saw was a pair of surgically-perfected double D’s, but most medical professionals prefer a subtler approach. And who can blame them?

Speaking of class, Google, where’s yours? SafeSearch protects what images we see (although, admittedly, even Moderate can be a bit racy at times), but surely businesses will be less than pleased to see that they are being represented by a wall of women without their tops. Not that the images themselves are shameful, mind, but that’s the type of thing that should be taking place behind several layers of clickthrough. On the other hand, surely cosmetic surgeons will feel compromised if they have to pull their before and after galleries from their websites, as potential clients will want to see what the final products of their work looks like.

It’s a little faux-pax … but nothing Google can’t remedy. Still, will they fix it? Since the images are clinical and not sexual in nature, they may have slipped through SafeSearch’s protocols. If Places automatically pulls the most viewed images, as intelligent as Google may seem, this still proves it to be a modern machine — not quite capable of thinking for itself just yet. We may have to wait a few more years until our networks can provide the same thoughtful attention to detail that humans do. Maybe we’ll be useful for a while longer after all!