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in brief: Google takes important step in tackling revenge porn

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Google’s senior vice president of search, Amit Singhal, announced via a blog post on Friday that Google will be releasing an online form allowing victims to request the removal of nude or sexually explicit images shared online without their consent.

‘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.’

Google aren’t the first technology company to take a stand against revenge porn. In March of this year, both Twitter and Facebook banned nude photographs and videos posted without the subject’s permission.

‘We know this won’t solve the problem of revenge porn,’ Singhal wrote. ‘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.’

Danielle Citron, a professor of law at the University of Maryland, believes that Google’s decision will make a huge impact on the lives of revenge porn victims.

‘What we have seen in the last six months is this public consciousness about the profound economic and social impact of that posting nude images without someone’s consent and often in violation of their trust can have on people’s lives. What victims will often tell you and what they tell me is that what they want most is not to have search results where their employers, clients and colleagues can Google them and see these nude photos. It’s not just humiliating, it wrecks their chances for employment. It makes them undatable and unemployable.’

While Google’s new policy is not a solution in itself, as it puts the onus on the victim to request that the image or video be removed from search results, it is a shift in the right direction.

As Citron says, ‘we have come to a cultural consensus that the exploitation of nude photos and videos without consent is unacceptable, harmful, and valueless and Google is recognizing it with its new position in search result. This is the next crucial, logical step.’

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