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Google Will Allow People To Block “Revenge Porn” From Search Results


Google Will Allow People To Block “Revenge Porn” From Search Results

Google has announced that in the coming weeks, it will launch a system allowing people to request nude and explicit images of themselves posted without consent from appearing in Google’s search results.

This move will help with the “revenge porn” issue, where upset partners post images to degrade someone they were with. It’s an issue that’s especially likely to be done to women.

Google wrote of the new policy today in a blog post:

We’ve heard many troubling stories of “revenge porn”: an ex-partner seeking to publicly humiliate a person by posting private images of them, or hackers stealing and distributing images from victims’ accounts. Some images even end up on “sextortion” sites that force people to pay to have their images removed.

Our philosophy has always been that Search should reflect the whole web. But revenge porn images are intensely personal and emotionally damaging, and serve only to degrade the victims—predominantly women. So going forward, we’ll honor requests from people to remove nude or sexually explicit images shared without their consent from Google Search results.

This is a narrow and limited policy, similar to how we treat removal requests for other highly sensitive personal information, such as bank account numbers and signatures, that may surface in our search results.

Google said that it’s aware the new policy won’t stop the practice but hopes it will help. I think that’s likely the case. If this material can’t be found in Google, it becomes largely invisible to the world. It also might serve as a deterrent from others to try. Google promised that a form will appear for requests in the coming weeks.

Google makes the move ahead of John Oliver having a segment airing this Sunday about the revenge porn problem on Last Week Tonight. USA Today has more about that, as well as further comments on the move. It’s not clear if Google was going to be featured in that report. But the timing of today’s announcement suggests a proactive move to counter potential coming criticism.

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