Online safety is pretty high-priority for folks with any amount of sense, and it’s ostensibly an important matter for most big tech groups too. Particularly when it comes to children, even if their safety features sometimes miss the mark a little. Google, in line with this, is rolling out a new safety feature with which users can request the removal of minors from its Image Search results.
There are a few reasonable caveats to the way the feature works, the main ones being that not anyone can request an image be removed on behalf of anyone else. Obviously, it’s open to minors finding pictures of themselves, as well as closely related individuals, such as relatives or guardians.
The process starts here, where concerned users need to give their chosen images’ URLs, what search terms led them to these images, the name and age of the person within the image, and their own relationship with the person within the image if they aren’t them.
Another caveat is that Google won’t let you take down pictures if the person within them isn’t currently 18, so you can’t get photos taken of you when you were 12 taken down if you’re now in your 20s. As The Verge points out, this probably makes it significantly easier to verify actual photos of minors, given that it’s a little difficult to prove exactly what age someone was ten years ago compared to them now.
Images will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by Google prior to removal, but will be left up in “cases of compelling public interest or newsworthiness”. We’re not entirely sure what this means, but if you asked us to guess we’d say it probably relates to minors who are the children of public figures or who are public figures themselves. Think Milly Bobby Brown or the youngsters in Britain’s royal family.
Google stresses that removing an image from its search results doesn’t mean it’s gone from the internet. That’s within the power of the site and webmaster who controls it, and individuals will have to deal with them directly. But removing them from Google is a good start.