Microsoft launched its new search engine Bing earlier this month and one of its great new features is a video search tool called called Smart Motion Previews. It's a preview feature that let you view and listen to part of a video by hovering over it with your mouse.

This is all fine and dandy, but when it was discovered that it worked for porn site previews also, and that it could be easily accessed by kids, it caused quite a bit of concern among parents. Bing had noted on its blog how to use Smart Motion Previews in combination with its SafeSearch feature, but apparently it was still very easy for kids to view explicit adult content on its site. Yesterday Microsoft announced that it has made changes that will make it easier for parents to block and monitor what their kids are watching when they visit Bing.

To be fair, kids can easily access explicit adult content by searching Google or other search engines without "strict filtering" enabled, or by simply knowing the URL of a porn site. When Bing discovered that it was making it even easier for kids (also schools and businesses) to view these materials, it acted fast to make two significant changes:

"First, potentially explicit images and video content will now be coming from a separate single domain, explicit.bing.net. This is invisible to the end customer, but allows for filtering of that content by domain which makes it much easier for customers at all levels to block this content regardless of what the SafeSearch settings might be. This makes it much easier for filtering software to block unwanted content if SafeSearch has been turned off.

In addition, Bing will begin returning source url information in the query string for images and video content so that companies who already use this method of filtering will be able to catch explicit content on Bing along with everything else they are already blocking for their customers." An example of such a query string is:

http://ts2.explicit.bing.net/images/thumbnail.aspx?q=974382499649&id=12ae77a7fed979b0502840bedacd2552&url=http%3a%2f%2fwww.explicitsite.com%2fexplicit-picturegoeshere.jpg

CNET News reports "the company has reached out to more than 25 filtering and security vendors to work with them to provide a solution for filtering explicit content while using Bing".

While there are parental controls built into Vista and Mac OS X and software like Safe Eyes to keep kids from viewing porn online, ultimately it is the responsibility of the parents to impose rules and guidelines and to monitor their internet usage. It's also good to have discussions about what you consider is appropriate behavior online and to keep up with the latest trends and technology.