Google is stepping up its efforts in the protection of minors, by allowing them or their parents to request for the removal of their images from search results.
In a blog post on Wednesday, the tech giant said that it was rolling out a tool to allow users under the age of 18 and their parents to request to have their photos removed from the images tab or as thumbnails during a search enquiry.
Google already offers similar services for various categories such as ‘non-consensual explicit’ photos, financial documents, medical and national identification documents.
“We know that kids and teens have to navigate some unique challenges online, especially when a picture of them is unexpectedly available on the internet,” Google said in the blog.
“We believe this change will help give young people more control over their digital footprint and where their images can be found on Search.”
Parents or minors will be able to flag URLs of any search results containing their images by filling out a form which will then be submitted to Google. The tech giant says that its team will review each form and rech out if there is need for more information to verify the requirements for removal.
Google however says the images will not be entirely deleted from the internet. People will still need to reach out to the owners of the websites to request them to delete the content permanently.
Google announced the development of the tool in August this year as part of its efforts in the protection of minors. Among other measures put in place are: setting all videos uploaded by minors to ‘private’ by default and a new Family link tool that allows parents to monitor the kids accounts.
The move comes amid intense scrutiny of big tech firms over their actions on ensuring minors and children are protected. This week, executives from YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat were put to task by senators regarding what steps they had taken to ensure safety on the platforms.
Facebook is currently on the spot after a whistleblower shared damning research documents from the company, showing how the Instagram and Facebook were causing harm to young users on the platforms.
Experts said the move by Google was impressive, as it would help protect youth from cyber-bullying or help negative information and images from persisting online.
We’re glad to see Google take this overdue step to give children and teens and their families more control over what images show up in search results,” a campaign manager for a child advocacy group, David Monahan said.
“We hope Google will go farther to reverse its collection of sensitive data and give families the ability to erase the digital footprint that Google and its partners maintain on every young person in the US.”