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Google Announces Plan to Block Revenge-Porn From Results

“Revenge-porn images are intensely personal and emotionally damaging, and serve only to degrade the victims—predominantly women,” senior vice president of Google Search writes

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Google Inc. signage is displayed in front of the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. Google is celebrating its 15th anniversary as the company reaches $290 billion market value. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Google announced Friday that they’ll soon make it possible for victims of revenge-porn to have their unauthorized, explicit images removed from the search engine.

“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,” wrote Amit Singhal, the senior vice president of Google Search, on the company’s Public Policy Blog (via The Guardian). “So going forward, we’ll honor requests from people to remove nude or sexually explicit images shared without their consent from Google Search results.”

Google’s decision to scrub revenge-porn from their searches marks a rare instance in which the company censors the internet content that appears on the search engine. However, “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,” Singhal wrote.

Singhal added that Google would soon put up a web form that victims of revenge porn can use to request that their image be erased from the search engine. “We know this won’t solve the problem of revenge porn – we aren’t able, of course, to remove these images from the websites themselves – but we hope that honoring people’s requests to remove such imagery from our search results can help,” Singhal wrote.

Google’s announcement comes just four months after Craig Brittain, the former operator of revenge-porn hub IsAnybodyDown.com, demanded that the search engine take down all links associated with his court battle against the Federal Trade Commission in a failed effort to cleanse his past.

Sunday night’s episode of Last Week Tonight will reportedly deal with the issue of revenge-porn as well as a proposed federal law that would ban such photos and images. That legislation, which will soon be brought forth by California congresswoman Jackie Speier, is currently in the “final stages of drafting,” a rep for Speier tells Rolling Stone.

“Today it’s possible to ruin someone’s life with the click of a button, by publishing another person’s private images without their consent. Our laws haven’t yet caught up with this crime,” Speier told Gizmodo in February. “If you’re a celebrity, you can pay a high-priced lawyer to demand that websites take your picture down, but for an average person, the current system offers almost no recourse. We already punish the unauthorized disclosure of private information like medical records and financial identifiers. Why should personal images of one’s naked body, given in confidence, be any different?”

In This Article: Google, Pornography

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