It will not solve the problem, but Google is taking a positive step when it comes to revenge porn, hoping to mitigate the harm that is being caused to its victims — particularly women. On Friday, a Google executive announced that the company will soon consider removal requests of the harmful images appearing in Google’s search results.
In a June 19 post to the Google Public Policy Blog, Amit Singhal — Senior Vice President — said Google will launch an online form through which people can submit removal requests to the company. The new form will likely roll out later this summer.
Despite the importance of search to Google and internet users globally, Singhal acknowledged the harm that is being caused to the victims of the nonconsensual posting of nude or sexually explicit images on the internet, stating:
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.
This is welcome move from the search giant, which accounts for about two-thirds of the U.S. search market share. Of course, removing nude or otherwise private images from Google search results does not delete the images from the internet. But it will make them much more difficult to find.
This is not insignificant considering the victims of revenge porn risk family members, friends, employers or future employers, colleagues, teachers/professors, and others Googling their names and discovering the images, which can have significant consequences beyond the obvious embarrassment factor.