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InfoSpace Launches Kid-Friendly Search Engine Zoo.com

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InfoSpace has launched kid-friendly search engine Zoo.com, which provides web and news search. Intentionally there is no image search at launch. The content comes from Google, Yahoo and Wikipedia with news content from ABC News, Fox News and Yahoo News. Zoo.com uses several methods to screen out adult sites and phrases and doesn't generate results for some queries. For example, a search for "sex" yields zero results.

InfoSpace said it developed the Safari-themed site after conducting considerable research and user testing. Zoo.com is aimed at "tweens" (8 to 13 year olds) who, according to the company, who use the Internet extensively for homework. In research with kids, InfoSpace found that almost half of tweens rely on the Internet as their top information source vs. 29% who use libraries as their number one source.

Ironically, if you do a search for "Kid Friendly Search" on Google, the top sponsored link is for "Adult Friend Finder." Similarly if you conduct a search for pop-singer "Madonna" on Windows Live image search, you'll find what many parents might consider inappropriate content, including nudity and images from her "Sex" book. That's equally true on Yahoo image search. Accordingly, it's very easy for kids to stumble upon adult content without looking for it. And many parents either don't or don't know how to change the porn filters on search engines.

Zoo.com doesn't have any banner advertising but there are commercial links interwoven among the general, organic results. Rod Diefendorf, vice president of local and online search for InfoSpace, explained this approach by saying that paid search results are often equally if not more relevant than organic results, depending on the query.

Zoo.com "competitors" include Yahoo's Yahooligans, AOL's Studdy Buddy and Ask's Ask for Kids. There's also KidsClick!, which is by librarians.

Here's Danny's previous roundup of kid-oriented search engines and porn filtering. There are many more sites is his piece than I've covered above.


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