back to article Pr0n baron challenges Google and Yahoo! to build better child locks

The world's largest porn studio says that Google and Yahoo! should "erect stronger barriers" to keep porn away from the world's children. Steven Hirsch, the co-chairman and co-founder of Vivid Entertainment, is to deliver this message on Saturday in New Haven, Connecticut as he addresses an army of Yale University MBA …


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  1. Troy Shanahan


    That's gotta hurt, when a porn baron tells you to reinforce your child locks.

    But frankly, I don't see how this is going to help. What needs to be pushed is the education of parents, because, in my opinion, it's up to them to take reponsibilitly for what their child does or doesn't see. We must also remember that when you forbid a child to see something, you make them curious enough to make serious effort to see or do what is forbidden. That's the way kids are.

    It's almost inevitable that a kid will come across porn at some point. It's impossible to create a completely infallible search filter. They either block too much or too little.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I had no idea

    those pr0n guys were so innovative maybe they need IPO.

  3. J Jones
    Paris Hilton

    Google loves porn!

    The web has plenty of standards for tagging content as unsuitable for children: the rating tag, pigs tags, even looking for naughty words... yet the Goog happily returns content so labeled even in its "safe" search mode.

    They can detect a paid link from a mile away, but can't figure out which words suggest mature content. Quite a shame.

  4. Chris C

    Protect the children?

    One question I always ask people, and have never received a valid response to, is "how does nudity, erotica, or pornography harm or damage a child?" In the US, we spend a lot of time and resources trying (and usually succeeding) to convince ourselves and others that nudity and sex (and everything having to do with nudity and sex) is somehow "wrong", "immoral", and "dangerous". We go so far as throwing people in jail for having consensual sex in private if one of them happens to be 17 years old or if a 16- or 17-year-old decides to post nude pictures of themselves voluntarily.

    Simply put, nudity is natural. There is really nothing more natural than nudity. It's how every single one of us came into this world. You may not like to look at everyone's nude body (especially in the US), but it's not "wrong" or "immoral". And yet many people equate "nude" with "pornography", saying that any picture of a nude woman is porn, somehow granting exceptions for pictures and statues of centuries past (any recent picture or statue is considered pornography).

    Similarly, sex is natural. None of us would be here without it. Sex is necessary to the survival of the human species (whether or not you think that's a good thing), and yet we treat it as something dirty that can't be mentioned. We hide sex whenever possible in reality, while displaying it as much as possible in works of fiction (movies, TV, etc). We demean women who wear "revealing" clothing while cheering models who wear the same (or even less). We drool over the pages of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, calling the models "gorgeous" and "perfect", while at the same time calling women on the streets "sluts" for displaying too much skin.

    Hell, the readers of this journal are just as bad. These readers are quick to badmouth Britney Spears because she was photographed in public without wearing panties. And yet these same readers who badmouth her were (before those photos became public) likely scouring the internet to find pictures of her nude. Once word of those pictures came out, these same readers likely raced against the clock to find said pictures (after calling her a slut, of course). Hypocrisy, anyone?

    Perhaps the point of this comment can best be summed up as: the more you "protect", the more you vilify; the more you "protect", the more you harm. Would we have such a problem with verbal and physical assault (including rape) against women who dare to wear revealing clothing if we were taught about sex and taught to respect sex (and women) instead of being taught that sex is something to be ashamed of and treating women as sexual objects?

    Maybe we don't need better protection for children. Maybe, just maybe, it's education we need.

    As for puritanical parents who do vilify sex and want to "protect" their children from it (these are usually the Christian people with 27 kids), there are already numerous solutions out there to do just that, on a per-computer basis. Or, if you have multiple computers connected through one internet connection, you can get a web-filtering application such as DansGuardian to protect all of the computers (that way, you don't have to worry about smart little Johnny disabling it on his system). Either way, the solution is already available for parents who want to do something about it. Why spend countless hours and resources reinventing the wheel and making things more inconvenient for everyone else?

  5. night troll


    "I do interview all of the Vivid Girls personally before we sign them to exclusive contracts,"

    The casting couch is over there girls

    Mine's the mac with the pockets cut out.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too fast to blame...

    I don't think he should be pointing any figures toward Yahoo! or Goggle. His company wined dined and lobbied none stop until the US government drop the idea of having all porn sites on their own domain. (.xxx). He knew very well that this would have been too easy to block sites form accidental search.

  7. Jach

    No amount of 'protection'... going to stop a horny twelve year old. Enter your birthday to verify you're over 18: Jan 1st 1980 lolz. Not every site has those anyway.

    Google can't really force people to use its content filter. I turn it off, so can little kids, and any image search for a girl's name results in porn. In any case, the fact that moderate safe search is defaulted to 'on' proves this guy wrong and that in fact Google does do something about as well as possible.

    If anyone, he should be blaming the parents for not properly monitoring their horny children.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    I feel i'm missing out.

    How to Have a XXX Sex Life' by the Vivid Girls, published by HarperCollins

    shouldn't this be in your book listings; would have been great to have known about it before V-Day

    Mine's the long plastic mac in the corner.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Shouldn't that book title be...

    "How to have a XXX sex life, all on your own"?

  10. GrahamT

    ' is about protecting children'

    No, it is about protecting your market.

    Kids get to see porn; parents get upset; parents lobby their politicians; politicians make life hard for pornographers.

    Blaming search engines for letting kids find your adult-only product is commercial cynicism at its worst.

  11. Andy Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Way to go

    .. attack Google in a vague way and get your PR blurb reproduced in full by IT hacks. It's not difficult to imagine that the average IT geek is a prime marketing target for these guys.

    Paris, because I'm sure she'd approve.

  12. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Simple solution

    This guy should just send a crate of Viiiaaaagraaaaa to Google. That should erect a stronger something right quick.

    Right, I'm out already.

  13. Sean Purdy

    That's a new one

    "women of notable stature" - there's a euphemism I haven't heard before.

  14. David S
    Paris Hilton

    @Chris C

    Sure, America has some serious issues regarding her sexuality. How can a society with probably the world's largest porn industry and with legalised brothels (in places) collapse in paroxysms of shocked outrage at the merest glimpse of well-preserved pop star's breast during a "wardrobe malfunction" for example?

    Puts me in mind of an adolescent squirming when the movie he's watching with his parents suddenly throws up a sex scene. I'm sure, with a little more maturity, America will come to terms with her conflicting responses. In the meantime, it would be nice if she could stop covering her eyes and yelling "Eww!!" - it's putting the more mature societies off an interesting juncture in the narrative. Herm herm.

    On the other hand, while nudity and sex are natural and all that, there are questions of appropriate context. It's not generally accepted (in modern, western cultures) as appropriate for children to be sexualised, for example. Hence sitting a six-year-old down in front of "Debbie does Dallas" or explaining the finer points (herm herm) of triple-penetration vs bukkake to a preschooler would, on the whole, be considered a little beyond the pale.

    This isn't to say that labelling everything below the belt as "dirty" is necessarily the healthiest thing to do, but a frank and grown-up approach is probably best.

    It does seem strange to have a porn baron lecturing a search engine on moral grounds, though. Surreal, almost. Paris, 'cos... Well, just 'cos.

  15. theotherone
    Paris Hilton

    porn philanthropist

    "cost of goods" ..... this phrase really really bothers me...

  16. James
    Paris Hilton

    Even Simpler Solution...

    I heard a while back that the US Government had the rights to all those p2p file sharing networks and they managed to kill five of them (sadly) in one day.

    What it means to me is that if they US Govt wants to they could kill the On-Line Porn industry in one fell swoop, thus negating the majority of any searches for a porn related image, video or story, whatever form they appear as, by any teenager or sad, lonely, adult without a real girlfriend/wife etc.

    If the liberalists out there want to go looking for porn, let them find it on dodgy vid sellers in the centre of town where they should be.

    Paris?...because she's a person and not a sex object

  17. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    What's with this "adult" entertainment?

    Adult entertainment is BBC Radio 4.

    This guy's a cunt merchant.

    Since he has so clearly failed to grasp a basic command of English, why is he lecturing to MBA graduates?

  18. David S

    @Ken Hagan

    Quite so, sir! Well said that man.

  19. Nicholas Wright
    Paris Hilton

    Re: Too fast to blame...

    Damn right... but I doubt you'll be able to talk him out of it...

  20. J Jones

    Porn wants to be found...

    But not everyone wants to find porn. Using code to define it will help those who want to avoid it, AND those who want to find it. Lecturing about morality isn't a tech issue, but helping folks find and avoid the right type of online content sure is.

    PS: sorry, that was PICS tags earlier, not PIGS tags. I don't want to know what a PIGS tag is for!

  21. Micah Peterson


    Does anybody else find this whole thing ironic?

    "I spend more time trying to talk a new girl OUT of becoming a porn star..."

    weird... Micah

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Pre internet days?

    Ok, so say a filter system existed that blocked all pr0n from the googles of the world.

    Get creative with some addresses - I remember being a student (pre-google days) and playing a game where you'd put a random non sexual word into the browser's address bar followed by a .com and seeing how many sites came back were pr0n. Hint - a lot!

    Ok so this trick is clamped down on and sophisticated filters now block all content if it's pr0n, so the internet is no good.

    Guess what, pr0n existed before the internet! All manner of filthy videos and mags did the rounds when I was in school (pre-internet becoming the norm).

    The usual source of the "goods"?

    1. one of the lads would go on a trip to Europe (with scouts etc.) and visit pretty much any news-stand in mainland Europe

    2. someone would liberate some from their parents stash

    So filter/block/remove it all from the internet and the kids will go back to the old fashioned way of getting at the stuff.

    Incidentally by the age of 13 I'd seen some pretty hardcore stuff. Hasn't done me any harm either!

  23. RW
    Thumb Down

    A Complex Issue

    It's time to turn the issue of protecting kiddies from pr0n on its head and instead of walling off unsuitable parts of the internet from the little dears and precious snowflakes, restrict them solely to those parts that are explicitly deemed suitable for them. After all, the internet wasn't built for chlildren: it was built for adults.

    If Wikipedia doesn't designate itself as suitable, why the tikes will just have to find some other source of information to crib their school work from.

    Of course, the cry "it's for the children" is a smokescreen for the prudes, whom Chris C. has so nicely holed amidships. The prudes in turn are patsies for right-wing control freaks who want to institute a police state in which we all learn to love Big Brother or they'll know the reason why.

    El Reg readers with a controversialist frame of mind may want to try out, when next arguing with some fundie "nudity, inherently dirty or not?" the dialectic "But man was created in God's own image. The Bible says so. Are you telling me that God Himself is inherently obscene?"

    And finally a historical note: the extremely prudish American attitude towards sex and nudity is very much a holdover from the earliest Puritan days, unfortunately given a new lease on life when William Jennings Bryan first played the religion card as part of a political campaign.

  24. Henry Wertz Gold badge


    Maybe it needs some tweaks (I have no idea) but google has SafeSearch, and it defaults to on. So it's quite false to claim they're doing nothing about this. And if someone is too squeamish about it they should have one of those web filter softwares on (which should then be able to block "SafeSearch" from being turned off.) If they don't have a filter anyway then anyone who wants porn can just go get it without the help of yahoo or google.

  25. Name

    Oh please, enough with the SaveTheChildren crap.

    The porn-for-sale moguls are just irked that Google and others make it so easy to find tons of FREE PORN. Sure would be convenient for them if Google had to play policemen judging what sites were "child safe" and what sites might compete with their product sales, and it sure would be convenient if Google were legally required to get your credit card number and a photo of your driver's license and a notarized copy of your birth certificate and then validate you on a voice phonecall before permitting anyone to see any of all that free porn.

    Yep, we need a law forcing Google to do strict secure age verification before letting anyone see any free porn...

    ...for the children.

  26. Ausländische fränkische Arzt

    Truth Amidst Opinions

    Kudos to GrahamT for seeing the economic truth here. A business needs to safeguard their products against abuses and, as far as possible, competition. Free, easily accessed porn represents serious competition. Further, when Vivid or any studio finds their productions to be freely downloadable (in whole or in part) they suffer a loss of potential revenue. Never mind that this stuff also represents a great form of free marketing.

    More importantly, let me move to the topic of children and sex. While I can appreciate some of the sentiments expressed, the legal responsibility to determine what is or is not harmful to children lies first with their parents, then with the courts, next with legislative and executive bodies who must consider the pros and cons of various decisions, then with the agencies and social/mental health workers who are charged with protecting our youth, and finally with broader society jointly and individually.

    Perhaps the most important hat I wear is that of an educator. I can state categorically that there is a world of difference between sex education and pornography. Our sex education program emphasizes anatomy, health, behavior and also two or more teachers' personal anecdotes. All of this is offered in a very safe environment. On the other hand, pornography often portrays pedophilic, bestial, violent, voyeuristic, homosexual or multiple partner sexuality which has been proven to be disturbing* to children--as well as many adults.

    (*disturbances may include arousal or troubling persistent thoughts and/or images)

    Adults may have a right to indulge in *some* pornography (depending upon their local laws). Allowing children to become exposed and disturbed by this material constitutes neglect (here in Germany). Actively inducing them to view or experience pornographic content is considered child abuse, and for good reason! Numerous of our children have been intentionally exposed to pornography* as a gateway to establishing a pedophiliac sexual relationship with them. My firsthand experience in treating and counseling these children is that all such exposures and experiences degrade their academic performance, social functioning and healthy sexual development.

    (*statistically this happens most often with homosexual men, but the perpetrators are adults of many descriptions and their motives range from misguided all the way to malevolent)

    Yes, the nude body is natural and sex is beautiful in a healthy context. However, there is a growing body of evidence that affording children the greatest degree of innocence for the longest period possible gives them the greatest chances of a fulfilled and productive life.

    That American Puritanism is invoked is sadly predictable. America is a land of contradictions. But most of their people are truly good people. If I were in a desperate situation, and I could choose the nationality of one random person who might or might not then choose to help me, I would absolutely choose an American. They do so love to "help out" often offering to help even when no one asks for it!

    I believe that pornography is a selfish indulgence that is good for no one. But I also believe this is a decision each adult must make for themselves.

    Have I managed to present a convincing counter-argument to Chris C's "what's wrong with Porn?" I expect that you never thought it could be done without religion, but I've learned that the great truths of religion are great only because they are true irrespective of their source, and one of those is that selfish indulgences are bad for us.

    Dr. S.

  27. ratfox
    Paris Hilton

    This is the RIAA all over again

    I fully understand his position.

    Before, Vivid was certainly a lucrative business. It certainly was one of the biggest porn company. All of it distributed through well-established channel

    Now, you only need to look ten seconds on the web to find free porn... It is so simple to start a porn site that everybody and his uncle is making one. Who's going to buy Vivid porn anymore?

    So, like RIAA, this guy is trying to shut down the competition... Good luck to him

    Paris because... well, you know why...

  28. ratfox
    Paris Hilton

    RIAA all over again - to add to my previous comment

    Just look at this: Vivid suing a web site for distributing their copyrighted material.,1,2232727.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

    I tell you, Vivid are taking instructions from RIAA...

  29. Adric Net

    Sure, mate, good plan

    So, uh, what's porn then?

    I'm feeling generous so I'll let your answer (in computer code of course) be in any programming language you want even though for Google to use it it would like need to be in PCRE (Perl Compatible Regular Expressions).

    Not done? Okay, well you can have a bit longer then .. but you'll forgive us if we don't implement your brilliant plan before you are done.


    Adric Net

  30. heystoopid

    Ha ! Ha!

    Ha ! Ha! , preaching to the wrong audience for he is more then likely talking to his future customers , as there is an evil standing joke about MBA's better known as "Master of Bugger All" amongst the assorted derogatory low esteem names given for this degree which number in their legion .

    I seem to recall the current plank in the White House has such a degree too(or a world leader whose teleprompter speeches are coded phonetically and also abused old family connections too) !

    Not all that long ago an Oz graduate described that of the fellow classmates at Harvard that of the some total of 260 doing this degree course , only half a dozen knew what they were doing and all the rest were basically a combination of slackers , rejects , retards and your average incompetent unskilled moron whom daddy had bribed the university to enroll as no other school would touch them with a barge pole ! The standards applied to earn that degree were laughable in the extreme , which probably explains why Caltech and MIT sat average test scores are so much higher then Harvard's !

  31. Dave

    Make Love, not War

    Of course, protecting minors from sex is a lot more important than protecting them from violence. Something is seriously wrong here...

  32. Anonymous Coward

    @ Chris C

    Perhaps when you find your 5 year old son or daughter performing oral sex because they saw it on your XXX cable channel or internet connection you will change your mind.

    Luckily this never happened to me; but a close friend's children were both taken into care after his 6 y/o son was found doing exactly this at school.

    I do however have to deal with sexualised 3 and 4 y/o children at work; how do you tell a mum that her 3 y/o girl has been muff diving another 3 y/o ???

    Not a coward, but I live in a small town and certain to be recognised if I post my name.

  33. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    Re: Truth Amidst Opinions

    @ Ausländische fränkische Arzt

    > Have I managed to present a convincing counter-argument to Chris C's "what's wrong with Porn?"

    No, what you've done is to cobble together a whole bunch of the same old claims, assertions and "think of the children" fallacies without any factual proof and conflate them into something resembling a Daily Mail style rant.

    > I can state categorically that there is a world of difference between sex education and pornography.

    Well duh! No, really? But, wait a minute...

    > pornography often portrays pedophilic, bestial, violent, voyeuristic, homosexual or multiple partner sexuality

    Let's get out the Big Brush to tar all porn with...!

    > which has been proven to be disturbing to children--as well as many adults.

    Proven by whom? What research are you citing? If you're an "educator" surely you can quote sources? And I like the way that you manage to associate, for instance, homosexuality with paedophilia and bestiality! Which century are you living in?

    > Numerous of our children have been intentionally exposed to pornography as a gateway to establishing a pedophiliac sexual relationship with them.

    And many more of them have found porn in their parents wardrobe or under their beds and looked at it without a problem. But still, let's drag out the tabloid bogeyman of "evil strangers who want to molest your child" (and again you attack homosexuals, do you have an anti-gay agenda?) whilst ignoring the fact that most abuse happens *in* a familial relationship.

    > there is a growing body of evidence that affording children the greatest degree of innocence for the longest period possible gives them the greatest chances of a fulfilled and productive life.

    Again, *where* is this evidence? Countries like the UK and the USA seem to think that "affording children the greatest degree of innocence..." by denying them access to sex education is a benefit. Oddly enough, these are the two Western countries with the highest level of teen pregnancy.


    > I believe that pornography is a selfish indulgence that is good for no one. But I also believe this is a decision each adult must make for themselves.

    Yet you seem to want to impose *your* views on others *instead* of letting them make that decision for themselves.

    "A convincing counter-argument"?

    3/10 - See me.

  34. Lisa


    I understand why he wants this. Google and Yahoo are great tools to find free porn on the Internet and that damages his sales. Why pay for it when you can get it free elsewhere? :-)

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Re: Truth Amidst Opinions

    I agree with Ausländische.

    Furthermore, Graham Marsden's rejoinder is more or less valueless.

    "Countries like the UK and the USA seem to think that "affording children the greatest degree of innocence..." by denying them access to sex education is a benefit. Oddly enough, these are the two Western countries with the highest level of teen pregnancy."

    Care to pull any more random figures out of the air? Or are you really suggesting that if more children watched porn, the number of teen pregnancies would be reduced?

    The entire rejoinder reads to me like the writer thought: 'I am deeply uncomfortable with the idea that there is anything wrong with porn, and I am uncomfortable with my liberal views being challenged so I will attack those who try.'

    Anyone who attempts to construe sentances like:

    "statistically this happens most often with homosexual men, but the perpetrators are adults of many descriptions and their motives range from misguided all the way to malevolent"

    as an anti-gay slur should be studiously ignored. This is a standard trick used by many campaigners of dubious repute to attempt to further their controversial liberal views - twist what the opposition said to make said opponent appear bigoted.

    It should be obvious to any sane person (including, it would appear, the porn 'baron' mentioned in the article - although the honesty of his statement is questionable) that porn is extremely harmful to the men and women who appear in the films/images.

    It is also unhealthy for those who watch it - porn is highly addictive and is often destructive to real relationships. The number of people being treated for pornography addiction in the UK is high, and growing.

    That anyone can think this is a good thing to expose children to is frankly astonishing, and I am given great comfort from the fact that should any of these people have their own children and subject them to porn they will be locked up for a very, very long time.

    As regards filtering technology, I think there is some truth to the complaints in the article - while Google does indeed default to 'moderate safe search' on image results, it seems to do little if any URL filtering and as noted above it would seem that not overmuch effort has gone into improving its safe search on images. Whilst I appreciate that it is basically impossible to filter images in any sane way with current technology, there is more that could be done in the image tagging area.

    Having said that however, no filtering technology is going to be perfect - and most intelligent people don't expect it to be. The task of filtering technology is not to stop kids who are trying to access porn from accessing it - this is all but impossible at a technological level. The task of filtering technology is (for example) when the child searches for information for their school project, to prevent them from being presented with pornography instead.

    Google's safe search feature currently does this reasonably well, for images.

    It should really apply this feature to the rest of its searches, too.

  36. Charles Manning

    Yes, Google is a port portal

    IIRC, some large % of searches are sex/porn related making Google the world's largest porn portal.

    The "I feel lucky" button is a giveaway!

    Google are between rock and hard place. Too much and they get knocked for providing too much porn (don't blame us porn makers, it's Google's fault for putting it in front of kids). Too little and they get knocled for censorship (and I bet Mr Porn Baron would be the first to bitch about free speach etc etc when hit hits go down).

    Right now Mr P Baron is sitting in the pound seats: he gets all the clicks he wants, but gets to blame someone else.

    Don't blame us drug dealers, blame the people who made the sidewalks we sell from.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    More like protect our future customer base

    If 'children' are accustomed to getting porn online for free, they'll never consider buying DVDs from the industry!

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    An ancient suggestion

    What if Mr. pr0n king encrypted his content? Then he is guaranteed to get paid, and no one without a credit card gets to look at his content. Leave mom and dad to secure credit cards. Name the sex pics sex pic names all you want at that point, right?

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