Google's social networking site Orkut has introduced what it describes as a "safety filter" that automatically filters out adult content such as sexually suggestive phrases or images.
The filter has been introduced in India, and is turned on by default for users in the country. Google plans to introduce it in other countries in the next few weeks, said Rahul Kulkarni, product manager at Google India, on Thursday.
The new filter screens for content that may not violate Orkut's community standards for objectionable content, but which users may not want to see, Kulkarni said.
Orkut is offering the filter as there is always a gray area as to what is considered as unacceptable adult content, which will likely vary from country to country or from one household to another, Kulkarni said.
Users have the option to turn off the filter, Kulkarni added.
With the "Safety Filter" on, if users come across content such as photos or text that they may find unacceptable, they will receive a warning and the specific content will be replaced by special icons, according to a post on Wednesday on the Orkut blog (http://en.blog.orkut.com/)
No filter is fully accurate, so if users see a page that they think should be blocked, they have to flag it as usual and let Orkut know, according to the blog.
Orkut has been criticized and even sued in court in India not so much for sexually explicit content, but for political content, including communities on the site that criticize the country or some of its politicians.
The filter in Orkut is however oriented to filtering out sexual content and not political content. Filtering political content is far more difficult as there is always a gray area as to when the filter would come in the way of freedom of speech, Kulkarni said.