Yahoo! Search Suffers from Porn-thumbnail Glitch

Yahoo! made headlines this week because it announced the decision to lay off four percent of its workforce. However, last night, the company was making headlines for a very different reason: users discovered that web searches for anything resulting in thumbnails for related image searches were leading to some very x-rated material.

We're all familiar with the related image search thumbnails. You search for something and, along with web results, the search engine shows you a couple of thumbnails of images related to what you typed. However, most of us probably haven't seen instances in which that related image section turns into a bit of a smutfest.

TechCrunch reports that users searching for anything via the main search page (it didn't happen with the dedicated image search tool) were shown thumbnails that linked through to some very graphic pornography. TC's Jason Kincaid said searches for 'puppy photos,' 'car photos,' and 'TechCrunch photos' all threw back the same photo of "a closeup shot of a man and a woman fornicating."

The problem/glitch remained in place for much longer than anyone anticipated; thirty minutes after it was initially discovered, it was still not fixed. There are theories that it may have been the handy work of a jilted employee, as it occurred not to long after Yahoo! announced it had begun notifying affected staff.

Yahoo! released the following statement but has yet to reveal what caused the problem:

"Yahoo! is experiencing issues with some of our image search results. We are working with Microsoft to correct the issue as quickly as possible. We understand that this may have caused some inconvenience and apologize to users who have been affected."

Around the same time, the company "fixed" the problem by removing all thumbnails from web searches. The thumbnails have since returned and actually lead where they're meant to.

*Image via TechCrunch