Minors can remove photos from search with new Google tool

By Samantha Murphy Kelly, CNN Business

Google now makes it easier for minors or their parents to remove their photos from search results.

In a blog post published on Wednesday, the company said it was rolling out a tool to allow parents and children under the age of 18 to request that photos be removed from their pictures tab or no longer appear as of thumbnails in a search request.

Although Google previously offered people the option of requesting removal of personal information and photos that fall into categories such as “explicit non-consensual” or “financial, medical, and national ID”, it is now extending this possibility to images. minors.

“We know that children and teens face unique challenges online, especially when a photo of them unexpectedly becomes available on the internet,” the company 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 research.”

The new form allows users to report the URLs of any images or search results that contain images they want to remove. Google said its teams will review each submission and contact if they need additional information to verify removal conditions.

However, the company stressed that this would not completely remove the image of the Internet; people will need to contact the webmaster of a website to request that this content be removed.

The company previously announced the tool in August as part of a larger effort to protect minors on its platforms. Other features introduced at the time included a private default setting for all videos a teenager uploads and a tool called Family Link that helps parents monitor their children’s accounts.

The efforts come as big tech companies continue to offer more child safety measures amid criticism from experts and lawmakers about the impact of various platforms on young users. Earlier this week, a Google-owned YouTube executive alongside executives from Snap and TikTok was asked by senators about the steps the platform is taking to protect their young users.

Some experts have applauded Google’s latest move to give minors more control over images, noting that removing them could also reduce cyberbullying or prevent the persistence of potentially dangerous information or photos online.

“We are happy to see Google take this belated step to give children, teens and their families more control over the images that appear in search results,” said David Monahan, campaign manager at Fairplay, a children’s advocacy group. “We hope Google goes further 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 United States.”

Alexandra Hamlet, a clinical psychologist who works with teens, said Google’s application process could also help parents talk more openly with their children about managing their online presence. This could include discussing what is worth considering for removal, such as a photo that could damage their future reputation compared to a photo where they perceive to be less than “perfect.”

“While some parents may believe their teenager can handle removing various images without help, I suggest they still have conversations about values ​​and how they relate to image online,” he said. she declared. “They might be missing out on a great opportunity to help their teenager develop insight and assertiveness skills.”

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