Lovehoney has hit out at Google’s explicit search feature over claims it unintentionally obstructs sexual wellness information.
The SafeSearch feature, when turned on, prevents Google searches from returning ‘explicit’ results, but it is being implemented inconsistently.
This means that organic results and paid ads on Lovehoney, which includes actual sexual wellness advice, are blocked, while its products still show up on multi-billion-dollar retailers.
The company said it although it supports the movement towards a safer internet experience for under 18s, recent changes to the SafeSearch feature mean that it is automatically turned on for anyone whose age Google can’t determine (thought to be approximately a third of users), resulting in large numbers of consenting adults being prevented from searching for sexual wellness.
Lovehoney said it “unequivocally opposed” Big Tech’s censorship of sex positivity, which includes the flagging of female nipples, block advertisements and suspend sex-positive accounts, quashing sexual happiness.
“Although we are fully in support of Google’s SafeSearch feature for under 18s, there seems to be some clear inconsistencies that are ultimately harming sex-positive companies and the consenting adults that are trying to find products and information on the topic,” Lovehoney head of sexual empowerment Johanna Rief said.
“Unfortunately, it is just another example of Big Tech treating sexuality as something that is sinful, while allowing actual harmful content to slip through the net.”
Lovehoney complained about customers being unable to find the site and released an animated guide to help consumers and those ‘suffering from SafeSearch’ find Lovehoney on the search engine.
This is not the first time Lovehoney has raised awareness of this issue; last month, the sexual wellness brand worked with McCann Birmingham to create a digital billboard, referencing Google’s SafeSearch feature. On the billboard, you see the giant word ‘OGLE,’ followed by the wording ‘turn SafeSearch off to lay eyes on our full range.’
“Having raised the issue countless times with Google and receiving little response, we felt that we had no choice but to create this instructional guide, particularly as there is such little information already out there, especially from the search engine itself,” Rief added.
“We hope to inform about the issue that is affecting our sector, while standing by our modus operandi, which is to help consenting adults achieve sexual happiness.”