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Google in an announcement today on its blog on public policy issues said that it will soon have a web form for victims of revenge porn to complete in order to have links to the offending images removed from global search results.

Revenge porn is any image that someone releases publicly that’s meant to humiliate the person it’s depicting. Oftentimes revenge porn surfaces on the web after an individual uploads sensitive, nude photos shared to them privately by their ex-partner while they were still in a relationship.

Google acknowledged in its post that while its mission has always been to organize the world’s information, revenge porn images are an exception, “intensely personal and emotionally damaging, and serve only to degrade the victims—predominantly women.”

“So going forward, we’ll honor requests from people to remove nude or sexually explicit images shared without their consent from Google Search results,” the company’s SVP of Google Search, Amit Singhal, said for the post. “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 the company will have a web form up that individuals can use to submit requests, and when that goes live the company will update its blog post (here) with a link.

The difficulty with revenge porn cases is that in most US states the act of sharing these photos online is not illegal, so long as the individuals involved are adults. In the famous case of Hunter Moore, who ran a string of popular websites dedicated to hosting revenge porn and was eventually arrested by the FBI, he was charged on hacking crimes – breaking into email accounts, specifically – to steal nude photos, rather than for the actual act of sharing them. Federal legislation will soon be proposed that would ban revenge porn.

Google has previously only taken down content from its search results in response to valid legal requests, rather than simple user-submitted, web form requests. The company has traditionally felt that if it removes one piece of content, or makes one exception, that people will begin requesting the removal of wide swaths of content. In the most recent example of the new European ‘right to be forgotten’ law, only ~41% of requests for takedown are granted, and of those that are appealed most denials are reaffirmed by the outside government body that is tasked with reviewing complaints. Google has taken a different stance on this issue, however, recognizing that the law hasn’t caught up to the scale and realities of the Internet-age, where any device can be infiltrated no matter how secure the user believes it to be.

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