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March 2, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 8:00am

Child-friendly search engine Kiddle sparks controversy

News: The site asks users to submit a form with suggestions of key words that they think should be blocked.

By Vinod

The child-friendly search engine Kiddle is creating controversy by blocking several words such as lesbian and gay.

Kiddle was registered in 2014 and is powered by a Google custom search which uses the company’s cookies to serve search results.

It is reported that the site has no connection with Google. The parent company is not named on Kiddle, but it is claimed to have been launched by the Russian founder of a site called Freaking News.

One feature on the site allows users to take part in the filtering process and asks them to submit a form with suggestions of key words that they think should be blocked.

The words such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) yield no results on the site as it says it cannot guarantee the safety of such searches.

The LGBT group Stonewall expressed its disappointment on the blocking of such words.

A Stonewall spokesperson said: "Young people regularly use the internet to find information on LGBT issues.

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"Attempting to stop young people finding safe and age-appropriate content of this nature will force many young lesbian, gay, bi and trans people to seek it elsewhere. This can take individuals down inappropriate avenues which might put them at risk.

"Kiddle should rethink its approach to blocking valuable LGBT advice and information."

Kiddle told the BBC that it had received complaints from parents and teachers before the terms were blocked during early tests.

"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," the firm said.

Other content currently blocked includes phrases like sex education, which was selected to be filtered based on the illustrations featured on many sites hosting the material, rather than for the data itself.

"What is OK for a child of 12 may not be OK for a child of five," Kiddle said.

Kiddle states on its website that, "Since Kiddle results are either handpicked and checked by our editors or filtered by Google safe search, you know you get kid-oriented results without any explicit content. In case some bad words are present in a search query, our guard robot will block the search."

The site said it will not collect any personally identifiable data, and logs are deleted every 24 hours.


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