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Weird porn searches in brower dropdown history
July 29, 2012 2:08 PM   Subscribe

Over the last few months I've noticed some heavily pornographic search terms popping up in the household computers' drop-down histories, but I cannot figure out who or what is responsible. Help me figure this out before it's too late? (NSFW language)

A few months ago I noticed someone had searched for "pee porn" on my desktop computer. I only found this out because it was a dropdown entry on the about:home Firefox page. I looked through the history and could not find anything that would have resulted from such a search, nor any evidence that anything was accessed as a result of this query. Google History was the only place I found anything concerning it, and it said the search was conducted the night before my wife and I left to go on our honeymoon, at a time during which we were both sitting next to each other working on final arrangements for our trip. There was no pee porn being viewed by anybody at this time. I wrote it off as being a virus or malicious script but ultimately ended up reformatting.

A week or two ago, I was playing a game on my wife's laptop with our daughter when I alt-tabbed out to look up an FAQ. Went to click on the search box, and among the first results there was "girl eats own pussy." I sent our daughter away and scanned through the rest of the list to find searches such as "huge clit porn" and "men who lick cum off girl bukkake." The searches are so all over the place in terms of subject matter that it reads to me like some kind of bizarre, half-assed SEO attempt.

Once again the browser history is empty and unfortunately Google History does not appear to be active on my wife's account (it was her profile on the computer that the searches were made from).

Virus scans are clean though AVG caught something back in June. I ran Spybot and it didn't find anything either, neither did Windows Defender. Nothing out of the ordinary in msconfig or Hijack This.

A Google discussion shows a few other people with a similar problem. I asked around on SuperUser already but didn't learn much.

Compounding the problem is that my wife seems to have cleared the history (I'm guessing for the kids' sake) before making some insinuations that I've been acting strange lately. So the evidence is now "gone," she's blaming me and I am desperately trying to get the resources together to mirror the disc before it gets modified to the point where the data becomes permanently unrecoverable and I can't learn anything else about the situation.

I would appreciate it if any help given would focus on the technical side of things given what little evidence I have shows it was NOT caused by human involvement. I would believe humans were involved if all the searches were related, but they are not. This is going to drive a marriage-ending wedge between us if I do not get to the bottom of this quickly. I have enabled Google History again so we'll see what comes back from that, but in the meantime...

Has anybody else seen or heard of truly random porn searches being conducted from Firefox without user involvement or know why searches would be conducted without anything being accessed?

Thanks
posted by anonymous to Technology (45 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Um, how old are the kids?
posted by liketitanic at 2:11 PM on July 29, 2012 [19 favorites]


via this link:


The most common reason that people see foreign entries in their Web History is that they forgot to sign out of a shared computer (e.g. computer at a library, school, or other public place). The most surefire way to fix this is to return to that computer and sign out. Another option is to change your password (there was a bug on our end with this approach that we are in the process of fixing and rolling out).

If you'd like to temporarily stop recording searches in your Web History while you fix the problem, you can always click on the "Pause" link on the left hand side. This will prevent any additional searches from being added to your Web History without having to delete the good data you already have.

posted by dubold at 2:18 PM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Whenever my teenage son performs searches his mother would not approve of, he clears his browser history. He does not clear recent searches, however, and as a result I know more about his preferences than I ever wanted to know.
posted by headnsouth at 2:18 PM on July 29, 2012 [17 favorites]


Has anybody else seen or heard of truly random porn searches being conducted from Firefox without user involvement or know why searches would be conducted without anything being accessed?

No, never.

Someone in the household, or a visiting family member or friend, is looking up porn. Nobody is getting hurt. Pornography isn't dangerous. This should not be a marriage-ending issue and you should not need to do computer forensics to save your marriage.
posted by killdevil at 2:19 PM on July 29, 2012 [34 favorites]


Have you talked to your wife about this? I don't get the impression that you've explicitly discussed this. That could nip any acting strange accusations or rom com worthy misunderstandings in the bud.

Do you think she will believe that you aren't making these searches? Is there any relevant marital history that is keeping you from just talking about it?
posted by cakebatter at 2:20 PM on July 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think you're seeing popular searches that google feeds you dynamically. They are coming from google not your machine.

That is my assumption.
posted by humboldt32 at 2:23 PM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


To supplement dubold's advice, you can each go into your gmail, and click the "details" link in the bottom right corner under "Last Account Activity" to see if google thinks your account is logged in anywhere else. There may or may not be a way to remotely log yourself out from all other locations, but it'd be worth looking for.

That said, if this is a potentially marriage-destroying issue, maybe you guys could also use some help with your communication skills? Like, say, from a couples' therapist? At a minimum, I hope you and your wife have talked about this stuff, rather than just suspecting each other.
posted by vytae at 2:26 PM on July 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think you're seeing popular searches that google feeds you dynamically.

Unfortuantely, no, Google Instant blacklists porny words (if that's what you mean).
posted by Beardman at 2:28 PM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you want to get to the bottom of it quickly, install a keylogger on the machine. It will tell you what was typed, and when.
posted by fake at 2:30 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Way way off in left field....but how is the rest of the marriage going? Could your wife be trying to set you up or gaslight you? Could one of the kids be sneaking onto the computer-or perhaps one of their friends?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:30 PM on July 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


Has anybody else seen or heard of truly random porn searches being conducted from Firefox without user involvement

I have never heard of such a thing happening - though I guess it's conceivable that it has. Occam's Razor leads me to blame either one of your kids (you didn't specifically say there's a pre/teenage boy in the house - but those searches are sure dumb enough to be from same. ('Dumb' in this case being equivalent to 'likely to yield Actual Decent Porn' as opposed to 'stupid'.)

Failing that, and god, I hate to do this, but a couple of places above you sound like a gentleman looking for a justification for something he's done himself. I'm sure that's not the case though - particularly if there's a sexually curious dude in the house.

Hell, whatever. If it's you and there is a sexually curious dude in the house then blame him. He's almost certainly done something close enough that a non-specific chiding will do the job.

God, I'm a terrible, terrible person.
posted by Jofus at 2:33 PM on July 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm sorry dude, but it is definitely being done by someone in your house. It's theoretically possible that someone outside the house has put a trojan on your computer that searches for porn through Firefox but doesn't cover its tracks, but it's hugely unlikely. I've never heard of such a thing.

On the other hand, peoples' children and SOs look up porn on the family computer all the time, I mean unless the kids are quite young (single digits) it's more likely than not that they've heard of porn and tried looking for it. And it would also be totally normal, not-unexpected behavior on the part of your wife, as well. It's a very, very, very common thing.

You are going to need to talk to your family about this, starting with your wife. Do not approach it from an accusatory point of view -- viewing pornography is basically harmless behavior in almost all cases. (On the scale of your family, I mean. Larger sociopolitical concerns yes, individual psychological concerns no.) Approach it from a "Hey honey, do you know anything about these searches? Is there anything I should know on your end, or maybe do we need to have a chat with the kids?" angle. You need to have an awkward but non-accusatory conversation with your wife and possibly children, and then go from there based on your findings.
posted by Scientist at 2:38 PM on July 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


My first thought was one of the kids. My second thought was your wife.
posted by heyjude at 2:40 PM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Don't count out your daughters. People have some sort of idea that only boys do this, but my female friends and I thought this kind of stuff was hiiiiilarious when we were kids. So, I suppose, also don't count out your daughters' friends.

Note: If it turns out to be your daughters, please don't embarrass them too much when you talk to them about it. For the love of God. My mom embarrassed me so bad when she would stumble across evidence I was looking up information about such topics. We were really just curious, and thought the dirtiness of it was funny.
posted by Coatlicue at 2:42 PM on July 29, 2012 [33 favorites]


Haha, Jofus, I got the same "Help me convince my wife it wasn't me" vibe from the OP.

Is your wifi secured? Maybe it's time to create a new, safer passwort.
posted by travelwithcats at 2:43 PM on July 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


You could set up a keylogger to see when these type of searches are happening and then you'll know who it was. I don't totally agree with doing it this way, but it would get you what you want to know.
posted by k8t at 2:45 PM on July 29, 2012


This is something some 11 year old boy would search for as a joke, seriously. Possible scenarios: some friend of your kid pulled a "check out this sick stuff LOL" with no 'erotic' purpose, just goofing around. Is it strictly impossible that kids have used these computers?
posted by Patbon at 2:48 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also came in to say that it might be from your daughter or from your wife. Be careful if it's either -- women watching porn is still heavily stigmatized and they may have a lot of shame associated with their healthy curiousity.
posted by Hello Darling at 2:50 PM on July 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


I suggest a keylogger because the Porn Is Coming From Inside The House.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:54 PM on July 29, 2012 [31 favorites]


It may be conceivable there is a virus on your machine that runs such searches and then 'clicks' on the ads in some sort of pay-per-click scam, artificially driving up ad click-through rates. Such things do happen, but we're at the extreme edge of probability. Plus I'm not sure that software of that nature would actually use the 'normal' browser on the your computer, versus running its 'own' browser and being less obvious. But the possibility at least may be a pressure release in a difficult situation.

More likely, as MoorOrb noted and other have noted, there is a prosaic even if unwelcome cause, and someone in your house is running those searches.
posted by StephenF at 2:59 PM on July 29, 2012


First guess is a neighbor or regular passerby using your wifi. If it's unsecured, I seem to remember programs that can grab logins from unsecured wifi.

Second guess is yeah, kids or wife.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 3:01 PM on July 29, 2012


That forum post you linked to inclues a reference to malware package which CNET seems to think is OK, so could be worth checking that out.
posted by StephenF at 3:03 PM on July 29, 2012


Change your wifi password. Have everyone change their Google passwords. Delete any remote login programs, and makemsure all admin passwords are secure. That's the benefit-of-the-doubt answer. Others have given you the more likely answers (kids and "stop trying to blame this on someone else").
posted by supercres at 3:06 PM on July 29, 2012


Also: make sure everyone in the house (you included) knows about "private browsing" mode in your browser. Or not: install the key logger and figure out EXACTLY what's going on, if you really want that info. Your decision.
posted by supercres at 3:09 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't count out your daughters. People have some sort of idea that only boys do this, but my female friends and I thought this kind of stuff was hiiiiilarious when we were kids. So, I suppose, also don't count out your daughters' friends.

Note: If it turns out to be your daughters, please don't embarrass them too much when you talk to them about it. For the love of God. My mom embarrassed me so bad when she would stumble across evidence I was looking up information about such topics. We were really just curious, and thought the dirtiness of it was funny.


Pubescent and prepubsecent girls also sometimes like viewing pornography because, hey, porn. I'd actually avoid bringing up the subject because getting chewed out by your dad about watching pee porn vids could be potentially more than a little shaming and scarring. If you want to put a stop to it, just install some kind of net nanny software.

(Which, if it's the girls, will probably just drive them to write their own erotic fanfiction if my own childhood is any indication, but hey, at least you tried.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:21 PM on July 29, 2012 [29 favorites]


I am female was looking up porn from various source (books, movies and early internet) by the age of 13 (turned out pretty sexually average) but honestly I suspect any children in your house with the word teen in their age. Yes even your daughter, she is feeling new things and is exploring them, the searches had a very childish/inexperienced at looking for porn feel to them in the wording. I'd avoid any embarrassing talks about catching her out at this stage, but if you feel that is is needed it a generic talk about sex and pornography might not be a bad idea. If nothing else her reaction alone might tell you if she's the culprit.
posted by wwax at 4:13 PM on July 29, 2012


When we first got Prodigy when i was about 7 in 1994 I started looking up stuff like, PAMELA ANDERSON BOOBS and SEXY PORN. Your kids, even if they're only just old enough to be capable of using a search engine, are a lot more jaded to the world of possible sex acts than I was in the early, barely connected 90's.
posted by cmoj at 5:53 PM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


When I was in high school, I found "lesbians with dildo" and "lesbians with tampon" in the family computer's search history. I had a nice chat with my little brother about how to delete search history while he sat across from me looking like he was going to throw up. Poor little kid.

1) Someone in your house is making these searches
2) It really is OK. I mean, my brother thought a tampon was some sexy sex thing, for chrissakes. If not for the internet, he may have entered adulthood with that belief.
3) You should probably talk to your wife about this and, together, calm the fuck down. This really, really, really shouldn't be a marriage-ending issue.
posted by phunniemee at 6:11 PM on July 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah, no adult is ever going to do a search for "pee porn". It's your kids. They're curious -- give them a break.
posted by Lobster Garden at 6:14 PM on July 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


I caught my son searching youtube for "pooping butt" when he was FIVE. Kids do stuff, it's not a big deal. Install a net-nanny program if you're concerned it's becoming problematic.
posted by Daily Alice at 6:20 PM on July 29, 2012 [13 favorites]


Following Coatlicue, Hello Darling, PhoBWanKenobi and others leads, I think this could be your daughter, who might want to know about the difference between pee and ejaculate, masturbation techniques, how normal is her particular anatomy, etc.

If it is, I don't think you should be the one to talk to her about it all, though.
posted by jamjam at 6:32 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Google has a safe search feature and IIRC you can password it so the kids can't shut it off. I know there are a million ways around this and other search engines but it's something, anyways. Google's Family Safety Tools is the guide.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:59 PM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Another far left field suggestion: are you taking Ambien (zolpidem) to sleep? There's a lot of evidence of people doing some very strange and physically complicated things, with absolutely no memory of it when they wake. What makes me wonder is your wife's comment about "acting strange." It seems to me that if the only problem is your concern about who, if anyone, is using your computer, then you would have simply shared your concern with her. "Acting strange" is a different level from "wtf is happening on our computer?"
posted by kestralwing at 7:16 PM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm flummoxed as to why your wife would blame you if a) the searches have been done via her profile and b) the second discovery was on her laptop. Most grown adults are smart enough not to use their spouses' personal computers to search for and enjoy porn while also hoping to conceal it. Kids, on the other hand . . . My thought was your kids, a babysitter, or a friend or family member, if it isn't your wife. First thing you need to do is talk to your wife about this directly. Don't worry about amassing proof or whatever, print this out and hand it to her if it makes it easier, but you two need to chat as soon as possible. Then, presuming it isn't either one of you, think about the people who are in your house and have access to both the desktop and the laptop. If you think this might be a child of yours and you're up for it, the gender appropriate parent should sit down and have a discussion about porn with the kid. You may feel that's not necessary, and that's a reasonable choice, too. Most importantly, change your passwords and set up a automatic logout after a certain amount of inactivity. As mentioned above, the only way to figure it out with certainty is keylogging software or catching the person in the act. Regardless of how you proceed, you should do this as a team since it sounds like this could cause a rift in your marriage. Also, you might prepare yourself for the possibility it is your wife and open the discussion in a non-judgmental way. While it probably isn't her, it could be and this may be the beginning of an important conversation between the two of you.
posted by katemcd at 7:24 PM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you have not had the sex talk with your daughter yet, now is the time to do it. You don't want her to learn everything there is about sex from random porn sites on the internet. If it is her, and she is doing this out of curiosity, having a discussion about sex may give her some of the answers that she was trying to get, without all of the nastyness she may be finding online.
posted by markblasco at 7:34 PM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


One other thing you might want to look at - have you recently had a phone stolen? Or did you give it away without first factory resetting it?
posted by jenh at 7:51 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it is entirely possible it's your kid(s) and that includes pre-teenaged kids and female children. I remember reading my parents' porn novels when I was 8 or 9. Also, I used to clean at a girls' school, and semi-regularly found porn magazines stashed behind the girls' lockers. Some of them were very specialist, shall we say, and the kids in question were 11-13. I should imagine that was the pre-internet version of what you're finding now. It might not be your kids, it might be their friends, searching in a place where they will not be found out.
posted by andraste at 8:28 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Talk to your wife about your views on porn, since it's most likely one of your children. Make sure you two agree before doing what comes next.

Now, I would actually type up some notes that say something like:

"Recently there have been a few search results of a dubious sexual nature in the following drop down histories (list them).
I honestly don't want to know who is making these searches, so here's a lesson on how to hide your history (provide instructions).
Think of this as cleaning up after yourself, like rinsing the dishes after you eat. Thank you!"

If your children have their own computers, lay this on their keyboards when they're away.

If you all share one computer, post this in a prominent location near the computer in bold, 14 or 16 size font, nothing fancy for the style, red or black type on white paper. Leave it there for a month. If you see this behavior again, put it back up.

And change your wifi password.
posted by DisreputableDog at 9:00 PM on July 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is this on Firefox, by any chance? And could Sync be enabled? If so, there's a possibility these could be someone's searches from another computer you've synced with that account, for instance a work computer.
posted by limeonaire at 9:06 PM on July 29, 2012


I've had random stuff show up in my google search history as a result of using another computer and not apparently logging out. I was actually able to tell from the searches which computer it was -- it was a friend's work computer I had used in their office and they had a set of searches that were pretty specific to what they were working on. There weren't any porn searches, but it still freaked me out a bit until I figured out what was going on.

As an aside, I never understood why my friend searched for "CNN" to get to the news site as opposed to just typing "cnn.com" into the URL field, but hey.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:41 PM on July 29, 2012


I cannot stand predictive search for the reasons you mention and also because I find it distracting and want results on what I type not what Google thinks I'm going to type. My solution is to not use it.

Use this URL as your home page Google search and you'll never see predictive search or search history results again...


http://www.google.com/webhp?complete=0&hl=en

...It's absolutely everything Google but it's old Google before predictive search and minus the history (for THAT page. Predictive search will still archive history for the regular google.com page).
posted by No Shmoobles at 7:00 AM on July 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is going to drive a marriage-ending wedge between us if I do not get to the bottom of this quickly.

That is crazy. You need a couples' therapist, not technical help.
posted by callmejay at 7:17 AM on July 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


It really can be the unlikeliest person in the house watching porn.

What really brought that home to me was an incident at my grandparents' house when I was 21. At the time, my 17 year old male cousin was staying with them. One time when I was using the desktop computer at their place I noticed that the web history was full of porn and there were random folders of porn here and there as well. I went to talk to my cousin and said something like -- dude, please watch all the porn you want, but why don't you cover your trails a bit? He gave me a long-suffering look and said god, do you really think I don't know how to erase files and clear my web history? That's our 75 year old grandfather at work, and I have to constantly clean up after him! So really, it could be anyone.

But it's just porn. N-thing that this should not be a marriage ending issue, even if you are the one searching for pee porn or whatever. This a problem that requires a human solution, not a technological one.
posted by peacheater at 9:49 AM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


These are popping up in search and not in history? Is it possible one of the kids is looking up shit people are saying at school?
posted by edbles at 6:02 PM on July 30, 2012


edbles answer makes sense. There was an incident a while ago where Dr Pepper posted random 'embarrassing' things on the Facebook app user's timeline. I found out about this on another forum because one mother was upset when her young teenage daughter asked her what 'two girls one cup' was.

When I first got internet access, I used to look at the 'weird porn' bit of Ask Jeeves, and I was a teenage girl who thought that porn automatically equalled disgusting. (Apparently it wasn;'t if it involved balloons or other ridiculous things.) I cleared out some viruses on my nephew#s computer once, and found some fairly dubious things. Teenagers of all genders will look up porn - either because they're young and like being grossed out, or because they're curious, or because it's naughty, or because they're interested. It seems the most obvious solution even if you or your wife do not want to come to terms with it.

That's the easy answer to your question. The second is that you and your wife clearly need to have a good talk.
posted by mippy at 6:12 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


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