Google Finally Gives Revenge Porn Victims a Way to Remove Abusive Links

By Adam Clark Estes on at

It’s about damn time. Now that the UK, about half the states in the US, have passed laws banning revenge porn and several people have been convicted under those laws, Google says it will finally give revenge porn victims the option to get said revenge porn removed from searches. That’s progress!

The search giant made the announcement today on its public policy blog. The plan for removing links to revenge porn sounds pretty similar to the way that many state laws address the issue—very carefully, given the First Amendment implications involved. Amit Singhal, head of Google Search, writes:

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 honour 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.In the coming weeks we’ll put up a web form people can use to submit these requests to us, and we’ll update this blog post with the link.

Singal adds that a form that will allow victims to send in requests will appear “in the coming weeks.” Exactly how Google will vet those requests remains unclear.

Either way, it’s a tremendous step forward in the way-too-arduous fight to put a stop to this vile behaviour. There’s also a bill due to be introduced soon to the US House of Representatives that would make revenge porn a federal offence in the States. While debating that legislation is sure to turn into a free speech battle, it’s encouraging that companies as big and powerful as Google are taking a strong stance on this issue. Let’s hope others follow.