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Microsoft Family Safety Filter Blocks Google 332

Posted by timothy
from the can-neither-confirm-nor-deny dept.
mike.rimov writes "I saw that part of the brand new Windows Live package is the Family Safety Filter, so I decided to give it a spin. Turned it on, set it to 'basic filtering' (their lowest level), and went to Google ... oops, it blocks Google! So I logged into the settings and added Google as an exception. Google still wouldn't come up. Just in case, I turned off the family filter: voila, Google. As we all know, 'Don't be evil' is not part of Microsoft's motto! Oh yeah — and with the filter on, Microsoft's own search engine, live.com comes up." Anomaly?
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Microsoft Family Safety Filter Blocks Google

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  • First Post! (Score:4, Funny)

    by GeorgeMonroy (784609) on Friday April 17, 2009 @10:39AM (#27612719) Homepage

    Google is evil so thank you Microsoft!

  • Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mc1138 (718275) on Friday April 17, 2009 @10:39AM (#27612727) Homepage
    It probably wasn't intentional, most likely they pushed developers to focus first on microsoft based search engines, but really, I also find it hard to believe not a single person would have tried google first. I doubt it was a big conspiracy, but rather they knew about it but didn't want to spend anytime fixing it.
    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 17, 2009 @10:58AM (#27613175)

      I find that hard to believe. Microsoft has been spending a lot of money because they have a very small share of the search engine market [howtonotma...online.com].

      They haven't been able to do that. Their search and crawling seems to be as bad as it's ever been. Their crawling especially.

      If you can't crawl properly, why would people bother to use the search?

      There's a small chance it's not intentional, but given their history of using their monopoly on the desktop to further other products, they don't deserve the benefit of the doubt.

    • most likely they pushed developers to focus first on microsoft based search engines, but really, I also find it hard to believe not a single person would have tried google first

      Actually there is a high probability that the Microsoft employees used google [cbsnews.com] until they were given their top down directions [businessweek.com].

      Utilizing a monopoly position to crush competition [usdoj.gov] has worked for Microsoft in the past, why would anyone expect tactics to change now.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Groo Wanderer (180806)

      "It probably wasn't intentional". Yup, you are almost assuredly right. It does however show how piss-poor MS testing and QA is though. Then again, if you use their products, this is not news.

                -Charlie

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Windows Live Family Safety operates in two modes: basic and strict.

      In BASIC mode, it uses a BLACKLIST to filter adult web content (porn). This mode is intended for teenagers, guests, etc. Google is available.

      In STRICT mode it uses a WHITELIST limited to a small list of children's sites (Nick, Barney, Barbie, etc) plus custom sites the parent can add. This is designed for young children who really aren't going to care that they can't visit Google, nor CNN.com, nor Slashdot. This mode is to keep kids entertai

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Yuan-Lung (582630)

        Windows Live Family Safety operates in two modes: basic and strict... ...The author of the post was probably running in STRICT mode and didn't realize the purpose of the software.

        From TFP:

        ...so I decided to give it a spin. Turned it on, set it to 'basic filtering' (their lowest level), and went to Google...

  • by Oxy the moron (770724) on Friday April 17, 2009 @10:40AM (#27612741)

    Google is unsafe... for Microsoft's monopolies.

  • It's the Os (Score:5, Funny)

    by camperdave (969942) on Friday April 17, 2009 @10:41AM (#27612761) Journal
    It's the "O"s in Google. They look like boobies.
  • Probably intentional (Score:5, Interesting)

    by W2k (540424) <wilhelm.svenseli ... minus herbivore> on Friday April 17, 2009 @10:42AM (#27612807) Homepage Journal
    Just a wild guess: Perhaps the family filter talks to Live.com in order to filter "inappropriate" results out. Other search engines not owned by Microsoft don't support this integration, so the filter blocks them as they would otherwise be a trivial way around the filter.
    • by FrostDust (1009075) on Friday April 17, 2009 @10:53AM (#27613051)

      That does make a lot of sense, it is probably the most likely explanation next to "Oops, we made a typo."

      It doesn't make sense that whitelisting Google still results in it being blocked, as the summary said.

      I'd be very surprised if they block other search engines out of competitive reasons, because they've been getting hammered by the EU for various anti-compition violations over the past few years. In IE7, the startup wizard gave the user an easy way to select something besides Windows Live search as their default search engine if desired, so its not like these concerns are foreign to Microsoft.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I'd be very surprised if they block other search engines out of competitive reasons, because they've been getting hammered by the EU for various anti-compition[sic] violations over the past few years.

        Yeah, but few of those have been effective at stopping MS from continuing said antitrust actions and MS has committed numerous new, unaddressed violations of the law. They're still making more money breaking the law and paying fines, than complying. Why do you think they'd comply now?

        • Given that Microsoft do have a long track record of abuses, some of which have caught up with them and they've been punished for, some have caught up with them and have been paid off, while an avalanche of others have yet to catch up with them perhaps it's time for the EU to get tough and send a message Microsoft can't ignore.

          Compile a book of all the accusations against Microsoft to give them. Tell Microsoft that the EU is getting tired of wasting tax-payers money looking at each allegation individually so
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sockatume (732728)
      Let's not forget that the Google cache would provide a way around the filtering for every single website in its index, if Google's added as an exception. I wonder if it blocks archive.org.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by kimmp (1519597)
        In my department at work Google cache is blocked but Google itself is not. It's rather frustrating, really, I wish I could image search. Fortunately when we do get those few pictures at the top of the search results when we add "pictures" or "images".
      • by 1u3hr (530656)
        let's not forget that the Google cache would provide a way around the filtering for every single website

        Not of images though. If you're blocking porn, as I'd guess woud be the major target of a "family safety filter", Google's cache won't help. (Though it's image search could give you thumbnails.)

    • by SailorSpork (1080153) on Friday April 17, 2009 @10:56AM (#27613121) Homepage

      Other search engines not owned by Microsoft don't support this integration, so the filter blocks them as they would otherwise be a trivial way around the filter.

      This seems reasonable. So it wasn't a devious attempt to block a competitor, just a very rigid safety feature that is unmotivated to integrate competitive products. Unfortunately, this will very likely drive a large chunk of people away from using it, and will make a lot of users think that MS is just being a dick.

      Unfortunately, some parents may just turn it on for their kids without testing it thoroughly and not realize what their safety filter is locking their kids into.

      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday April 17, 2009 @11:20AM (#27613667) Journal

        >>> [Fortunately,] this will very likely drive a large chunk of people away from using it, and will make a lot of users think that MS is just being a dick.

        Fixed. ;-)

        And I'm not just being anti-MS here. The computer industry was a lot better when we had multiple manufacturers (Atari, TI, Commodore, Apple, IBM) and multiple OSes (GEOS, TOS, Workbench, MS-DOS, MacOS) because it promoted innovation. Since Microsoft became dominant circa 1998, innovation has slowed to a crawl, and I think the weakening of Microsoft so people can explore alternative companies would be a good thing ("fortunate").

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by John Hasler (414242)

        > This seems reasonable. So it wasn't a devious attempt to block a competitor, just a very
        > rigid safety feature that is unmotivated to integrate competitive products.

        Yes, it's always best to have a plausible cover story, isn't it?

    • >>>Perhaps the family filter talks to Live.com in order to filter "inappropriate" results out.

      Riiiiight. And our president wasn't really bowing to kiss a king's hand, but was just stumbling (official white house explanation). Uh huh. Yep. Sure. I don't believe that or Microsoft's explanation. I'd rather hear, "Ooops we made a mistake" than a lie.

      BTW the reason why it's wrong to bow to a king or queen is because it endorses the idea that some persons (nobility) are better than other people (co

  • Anomaly? (Score:3, Funny)

    by omar.sahal (687649) on Friday April 17, 2009 @10:44AM (#27612849) Homepage Journal
    Anomaly?
    I dont't know mike.rimov but the word anomaly in the English Oxford dictionary is defined as
    • noun (pl. anomalies) something that deviates from what is standard or normal.

    so no its not an anomaly for Microsoft, if thats what you getting at. No news here move along

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Rhetorical

      • adjective, (of a question) asked for effect or to make a statement rather than to obtain an answer.
  • by BitZtream (692029) on Friday April 17, 2009 @10:45AM (#27612863)

    This is a classic filter issue, and a prime example of why using filters like this is a retarded waste of time.

    A simply Google search probably will tell you how to work around the filter completely, as such Google is a banned website.

    This isn't anything new, all of the filters out there do this sort of thing, this one just seems evil since its Microsoft blocking Google, but it happens with all of them.

    The real solution is to realize that the person you're trying to prevent from seeing stuff on the Internet is going to find a way to look at it anyway. If you're doing this to stop kids from looking at something then you better keep them locked in a basement cause they'll just go somewhere else to find what they want. You can bet one of their friends doesn't have a porn blocker.

    The solution to these problems for parents is to actually be a parent and remember that YOU are responsible for your children. Not Microsoft, not the computer, not your ISP, not the Internet, YOU. You can spend an entire lifetime trying to stop them from doing something and they'll spend their entire lifetime showing you how you can't. Unless of course you just ignore anything they do when you aren't watching them. Perhaps you should try a little education instead.

    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday April 17, 2009 @11:27AM (#27613819) Journal

      >>>If you're doing this to stop kids from looking at something

      I don't understand the big deal. So kids see nudity? So what? The human body is nothing to be ashamed of. Although I don't want my kids to see porn (sex), if they did would it be so horrible? By the time they're 13 they'll know what sex is anyway, and even if you shelter them completely, they'd better have SOME idea what they're supposed to do on their wedding night else I'll never get grandchildren! ;-)

      American society seems to be built on the notion of keeping kids ignorant ("innocent") which is exactly the opposite of what our jobs as parents is meant to do. We're supposed to be teaching children about the world and preparing them to deal with it, not hiding it from them.

      • by digitig (1056110)
        I don't see a problem with kids knowing about sex (although I did hear a comedy skit recently that the amount of porn kids see nowadays is likely to lead to give them problems having kids of their own, because the boys will prod around for a while then pull out and ejaculate on the girl's face), but straightforward porn is far from the worst thing on the web.
        • My first experience of internet porn was a babe and a dog. I really didn't want to see that! I had no idea anyone would want to do that let alone look at pictures of it. It was quite disturbing at the time.

          But I was not damaged by it. You get over it.

          The real problem with filters is that they don't work. There will still be some innocent looking link to a page thats far from innocent. I was not looking for porn at all when i found that picture.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by King_TJ (85913)

      Really, it depends on the age of the user though.

      For example, I have a 6 year old daughter who has discovered the wonders of YouTube videos on my iPhone. She knows how to do a basic search for things she wants to see, and finds all sorts of little cartoon segments and music videos for things she likes.

      Unfortunately, there are also issues like her last search for "Easter bunny" bringing up a Charlie Brown Easter cartoon, overdubbed with all sorts of profanity, violent and racist remarks, in an attempt to be

  • adsense too? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Friday April 17, 2009 @10:46AM (#27612877)
    From a post made in December, [blogspot.com] it also apparently blocks AdSense ads (which would make sense, since they're part of Gooooogle). Anybody else know what this "Safety Filter" blocks?
  • by gcnaddict (841664) on Friday April 17, 2009 @10:49AM (#27612935)
    Why is it that Slashdot posts such opinionated summaries at times? This is worse than the typical Apple bashing that goes on. It's also rather immature.
    • by PhxBlue (562201)
      It's not the summary that's biased here; it's a fair summary of a large company showing biased behavior.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sockatume (732728)
      Unfortunately Slashdot's content is reader-submitted, and it's a rather immature readership. Normally only the summaries are reader-submitted by, you know how it is, slow news day, might as well just pass off a comment as an article.
      • Its not like other news sites are any better with the crap thats reported or the bias in the reporting. If you know of one, please tell. A good technical section is a must.
    • Why is it that Slashdot posts such opinionated summaries at times?

      You must be new here! Welcome!

    • Why is it that Slashdot posts such opinionated summaries at times?

      Because they are good for getting /. panicking and supporting the ad revenue ;)

      [/cynic mode]

    • by Vexorian (959249)
      I can't think of a mature way to report what seems like either an immature attempt at blocking competition or a very good example of not testing your software at all.
  • Eh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Computershack (1143409) on Friday April 17, 2009 @10:50AM (#27612961)
    I'd love to know WTF the author has done. It's never blocked Google on the three lappies its installed on here.
  • by MyDixieWrecked (548719) on Friday April 17, 2009 @10:50AM (#27612969) Homepage Journal

    I'd imagine that they're not intentionally blocking google because they're a competitor (although it could be a contributing factor). I would think that they consider Live.com to be more compatible with family filter and google allows access to cached pages which the family filter may not be able to block.

    Of course, one way that MS could show good faith would be to open up the family filter's API in some way so as to let it play nice with google and allow google to disable cached pages for users of the filter.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by GatesDA (1260600)

      Actually, FSS does have specific Google support: it's allowed by default, but counts as "Adult Content" if safe search is off. That's why it's blocked for the submitter, and why adding it as an exception doesn't work.

  • Google redirects to other TLDs based on the user's location. If the filter runs through some proxy in the US it's entirely possible he was getting redirected to the block-list google.com from the allowed-list domain of google.fr or whatever. However seeing as the "story" is a one-para barely-there bug report I doubt we'll ever actually know.
  • They're probably just trying to stop people from downloading the new Wolverine movie [slashdot.org]

  • by nlewis (1168711) on Friday April 17, 2009 @10:55AM (#27613097)

    I seem to recall a much older filtering software package (I don't recall which offhand - DansGuardian, maybe?) that will block Google if you have disabled "SafeSearch" in the Advanced Preferences - that is, if you have it set to "Do not filter my search results."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nlewis (1168711)
      Following up on my own post, yes it is DansGuardian [dansguardian.org] that can be configured to block Google searches if Google SafeSearch is turned off. So maybe Microsoft's filter is taking a similar approach? The obvious thing to try is to turn off the MS filter, check your Google preferences and make sure SafeSearch is enabled, then turn the filter back on and see if the problem persists.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by TechnoFrood (1292478)
        Actually DansGuardian will let you force safe search to be on, the default filter lists have a regex url replacement that forces safe search. You can even make searches for Zac Efron become searches for David Dickinson [wikipedia.org], which can be quite funny when you are running Dans in a school.
  • by nimbius (983462) on Friday April 17, 2009 @10:57AM (#27613147) Homepage

    I tried to visit redhat.com and a chair shot out the back of my machine!

  • Anomally (Score:3, Funny)

    by RemoWilliams84 (1348761) on Friday April 17, 2009 @10:58AM (#27613157)

    Anomally?

    Sounds like smart marketing to me. Just block your biggest competitor.

    I wonder if they blocked Mozilla too?

  • by Kligat (1244968) on Friday April 17, 2009 @11:01AM (#27613245)
    The navigation bar of Google's Blogger website was blocked for me. Random things were blocked that weren't noticeable as missing, popping up every time, so it felt like spyware. I tried to turn it off through Ctrl+Alt+Delete (actually, Ctrl+Shift+Esc since I use Vista). The process would not let itself die and restarted itself over and over. Then it blocked Wikipedia, I think before or after I went to "Stop Service." I asked if the owner of the computer meant to install it, and sure enough, it was hidden in some automatic update crap. The same automatic update crap rolls back my graphics drivers to the lazily outdated computer manufacturer-approved one, rather than the newest Intel one. The former has a problem with rendering bumpmaps on 3D objects so that if you're looking at an object with a bumpmap in front of an object with a bumpmap, both bumpmaps are rendered on the object nearest the camera. The latter fixes it. It also used to replace my wireless card driver with a driver from the same manufacturer meant for wirelessly communicating with other computers in a local area network, though this hasn't been a problem since I stopped using that card.
  • Sure... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Friday April 17, 2009 @11:11AM (#27613447) Homepage Journal
    You could accidentally search for "Live goat Porn" on google. Microsoft's search engine doesn't index any porn (Or much of anything else,) that's why no one uses it.
  • by kheldan (1460303) on Friday April 17, 2009 @11:45AM (#27614287) Journal
    They should rename it the "Parents That Can't Be Bothered To Pay Attention Filter" instead. The question "Do you want the government raising your children?" has already been put to the public, and the answer is obvious: a resounding "No!". Now I put this question to you all: Do you want Microsoft raising your children? Turn off the damned net-nanny and actually pay attention to what your kids are doing, damnit!
  • Google caches web sites. As such, the filter might block a web site, but you could get around it using google's cached sites. Still, I'd think that Microsoft would at least expressly tell people WHY they are blocking their biggest competitor's web site.
  • by surfingmarmot (858550) on Friday April 17, 2009 @11:45AM (#27614313)
    We have been led to believe Microsoft does extensive testing of products and features. Even if the blocking was unintentional, certainly they must have noticed it and the fact they don't block there own server. As a result, they should have either, white-listed Google or at least expressly and clearly stated Google was being blocked. Given Microsoft's past history, this kind of "aw shucks look it blocks Google but let's just mirk and ignore it" behavior is not acceptable and is predatory in nature in keeping with past behavior. Convicted monopolists are held to higher standards than average companies because they are on parole.
  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Friday April 17, 2009 @11:46AM (#27614329)
    Didn't Steve Ballmer say that using an iPod or Google in his house is a punishable offense?
  • Do know evil.

    You know what they say 'if you travel far enough you will meet yourself'

  • Works for Me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pgn674 (995941) on Friday April 17, 2009 @11:52AM (#27614467) Homepage
    I tried it on my own machine. On Web Filtering Basic, it allows www.google.com, and on Strict, it does not. It logs my access to Google if Activity Reporting is on. It looks like Strict uses a white list [live.com], so blocking Google can be reasonably expected by a user.
  • by macraig (621737) <[mark.a.craig] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday April 17, 2009 @11:57AM (#27614581)

    Since I can use Google to find some really nasty anal porn and, what's even worse, those awful sinful bittorrents, why wouldn't the Family Safety Filter block it? Of course unless my parents lock me in the basement I can still find porn and all sorts of life-shortening stuff everywhere else. Since I'm so driven to get this mind-wrecking stuff, maybe they should lock me in the basement?

  • That is just pathetic.
  • by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Friday April 17, 2009 @01:06PM (#27616047)

    Ok, the Summary is #1 wrong, and #2 people here have no idea what the hell they talking about.

    The FAMILY SAFTEY is working as it is supposed to, as it is designed to setup for your freaking KIDS...

    On Basic, it allows Google.com, and that is working as intended.

    On Strict, it does not, as some parents wouldn't want their kids using Google that WILL RETURN DONKEY PORN VIDEOS because there is no way to intelligently filter the Google results.

    If Google doesn't want to be blocked on Strict, they can provide RSS OPENSEARCH features, like everyone else is doing. However Google is intent of refusing to provide RSS OpenSearch features.

    The BROKEN here is Google not supporting a web standard in their search engine results and method of returning results.

    As for the whole MS is keeping people from Google, this is insane. They have no locks on Live search even for IE users (letting people use any search engine easily as their default Browser search engine).

    MS has even had to 'code' around Google's lack of standards in the OpenSearch and other areas to allow 'Search Tips' and dropdown features from Google Search, since Google doesn't provide the standard 'hint' or 'search tip' features that ARE a standard and other search engines and even sites like Wikipedia provide inherently.

    Google is the ones locking the doors here, in several ways, and yet someone the 'intelligent' people at SlashDot haven't even noticed any of this going on? Go look up Search Connector and RSS Search feeds, and RSS Search filtered results. Everyone and their dog supports them, except Google.

    They are even integrated in Windows7 Explorer so users can search inside a Folder or Open/Save Dialog box and get web pages, video, images, links, etc from just about any online search engine or provider of content EXCEPT GOOGLE because they refuse to support RSS OpenSearch and RSS OpenSearch Filtering.

    This time it comes down to MS doing the right thing, and Google intentionally not 'playing nice with others' and by proxy it breaks the abilities of the Live Family Safety features on the strict setting. If Google doesn't want to be excluded, provide freaking intelligent results or results that can be ensured to not have donkey goat porn, which apparently Google can't do or doesn't want to do effectively.

    This time it is MS providing the standard web search technology and is the OPEN search engine when it comes to interfacing with all the OPEN standards.

    • by PhxBlue (562201) on Friday April 17, 2009 @01:56PM (#27617039) Homepage Journal

      Clippy: You appear to be spreading misinformation about your competitor's products. Would you like assistance?

      If Google doesn't want to be excluded, provide freaking intelligent results or results that can be ensured to not have donkey goat porn, which apparently Google can't do or doesn't want to do effectively.

      Umm ... you mean like SafeSearch [google.com]?

  • Bork! Bork! Bork! (Score:3, Informative)

    by DynaSoar (714234) on Friday April 17, 2009 @03:08PM (#27618301) Journal

    Remember when Microsoft pulled the stunt of changing MSN so it gave Opera users a broken page instead? Opera retaliated by releasing a version that went around Microsoft's block and rendered the MSN pages in the 'language' of the Muppet Show's Swedish Chef. http://www.internetnews.com/dev-news/article.php/1584361 [internetnews.com]

    If Google still had a pair they could cause their search engine to detect when IE is being used and return all Microsoft related results with 'weasel weasel weasel' inserted in the summary and/or subsequent page views.

    As for the earlier response that accused Google of being at fault for not following standards, we've heard that song before. It translates from MS-Marketoid to English and comes out as "not following what Microsoft says standards should be, which usually differs from what the rest of the world says." As for returning results with donkey porn, a Live Search for 'donkey porn' returns a t-short company that uses copulating donkeys as their logo, and shows t-shirts saying "You're F*cking Out" and "Jizz In My Pants". I take it Microsoft has decided that these results are suitable for kids. I don't know which is worse, the hypocrisy of allowing ads with donkeys fucking (though not of non-ad fucking donkeys; ads are too important to block I guess) or the paternalism they show in taking the decision out of the hands of parents of what is suitable for their kids and what is not.

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