There's a new (Web) address for all things X-rated. ICM, the company behind Search.xxx, today (Sept. 27) launched its porn-only search engine that corrals porn sites inside a single .xxx domain. While some members of the porn industry weren't too happy with Internet authority Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers' (ICANN) decision to authorize the xxx master domain, it may help parents prevent curious kids from seeing adult material.
ICM has made its launch page as convenient as possible for the user — with no ads, a big search box and three buttons to select a language, a sexual orientation and a light or dark screen (the latter is preferred by experts for nighttime reading ). The only protection is an age gate that asks users to indicate whether they're 18 years of age or older — standard protocol on the Internet — and insufficient to prevent minors from accessing it.
Many porn site operators are using the new .xxx extension. Parents can block this top-level domain from browsers used on family computers and other devices. Metacerf, the security software company that has partnered with ICM to identify adult pages, offers a free plug-in for Firefox and Chrome browsers that block .xxx websites, as well as other pages found to have adult content. (Porn sites were allowed to keep their .com addresses, so porn can still be found outside the .xxx domain.) A version for Internet Explorer and Safari will be released soon. And, Metacerf also has a family-friendly browser in the works, called Olly, for iPad and iPhone devices.
It's worth mentioning that you can also block .xxx and any other sites you find objectionable from Google search results . Open a Google search page, click the gear icon at the upper right of the page to select options and then select "search settings." Scroll down the page and click the link "block unwanted sites." Type search.xxx in the box and click the Block button. Competing search engine Bing does not allow users to block specific sites, but like Google, it offers filters designed to eliminate showing links to adult material in search results.
To set the Bing and Google Search filters to "strict," go into your search settings by clicking on the gear icon. Choose "search settings" to see your filter options and set to "strict." That's it for Bing, but Google also lets you lock in your choice. While it's not really a lock that keeps kids from changing the stricter filter, it does add a big graphic element that indicates safe settings are on and sites are blocked. Big bouncing balls at the top of every search page are easy to see even from across the room.