By Taruka Srivastava | Freelance journalist

July 20, 2022 | 2 min read

UK sexual wellness brand Lovehoney has created an instructional guide to raise awareness of how it can be hidden by Google’s SafeSearch.

The SafeSearch feature, when turned on, prevents Google searches from returning ‘explicit’ results, but the brand argues this is being implemented inconsistently. For example, organic results and paid ads for the Lovehoney site – which contains actual sexual wellness advice – are blocked, while its products still show up on the sites of other retailers.

As part of the awareness campaign, Lovehoney has unveiled an animated video guide with the aim to help those ‘suffering from SafeSearch’ (symptoms of which include suppressed sexual happiness). The guide walks consenting adults through the process of turning SafeSearch off, in turn showing them how to find Lovehoney without any issues. Lovehoney has also created an advice page with additional information on SafeSearch, as well as a step-by-step guide on switching it off.

Lovehoney stated that it “supports the movement toward a safer internet experience for children,” but the SafeSearch feature 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.

Describing Google’s feature as ‘censorship of sex positivity,’ the campaign is Lovehoney’s second attempt to get its point across to the multi-billion tech brand. The brand has raised more than 600 upheld complaints to Google about blocked ads without any response. Furthermore, an estimated 250,000 consumers are being prevented from finding Lovehoney each month due to Google SafeSearch as per Lovehoney’s statement.

Johanna Rief, head of sexual empowerment at Lovehoney, said: “Although we are fully in support of Google’s SafeSearch feature for under 18s, there seem to be some clear inconsistencies that are ultimately harming sex-positive companies and the consenting adults who are trying to find products and information on the topic. 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.”

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