Sydney Morning Herald
Google is trying to figure out the cause of a mysterious search bug that returns pages and pages of almost exclusively pornographic and adult results when users enter certain equations or search strings.
A Google search for "-4^(1/4)" at the time of writing revealed the result on a calculator, below which were several pages of porn links with titles such as "four guys and a hooker" and others too lewd to repeat here.
Other search strings that return mostly adult links include:
• "1 2" -1
• "1 2" -2
• "h 3" -h
• "1 4" -4
• "apple 1" -apple
The first person to notice the bug appears to be a poster on Quora who wondered what was causing this "equation porn" when users search for contradictory queries.
From the look of this simple but systematic approach, I’d say the bug isn’t a bug at all- It’s a simple code used to locate things normal searches wouldn’t pick up, and the filters don’t work on it. It’s quite possible that codewriters for these sites have adopted an innocuous string of numbers which could sail past porn-watching software and Google’s own defences with ease.
It may also be a clue as to how some of the very nasty things on the net are so easily accessible to people who probably know less about net searches than they do about their soiled underwear. How else would pedophiles and other charming excrescences be able to access sites which do everything possible to say hidden?
Systemic coding like this is basically a tag which isn’t a tag, and just as reliable. You couldn’t miss the searches. Ironically, it’s also more efficient than some of the ridiculous search results you get on “normal” searches.
The good news is that Google and other search engines could take advantage of this trick to sharpen up their own searches. Subject > string > better quality search results. What goes around….
Readers who try out the strings- DO NOT access those sites
. They’re typically full of malware. Look at the search results, but don’t click.