Adult and violent content will now be blurred by default and users can request Google to remove their own explicit images from search results for better privacy.
Google will now start alerting users when it finds out that their personal information has been posted on the internet, making it easier for people to manage sensitive information online.
In a blogpost yesterday (3 August), Google said it has “significantly updated and improved” a tool it first launched in April last year, which allows users to request the removal of personal information about them, such as phone numbers and home addresses, from search results.
“Research has told us there’s a larger amount of personally identifiable information that users consider as sensitive,” Michelle Chang, global policy lead for Google Search, told Reuters at the time. “They are increasingly unwilling to tolerate this content online.”
Danielle Romain, vice-president of trust at Google, said that the search giant will roll out a new dashboard in the coming days that will let users know if their contact information has shown up in any search results.
“Then, you can quickly request the removal of those results from Google – right in the tool,” she said. “We’ll also notify you when new results from the web containing your contact info pop up in Search, to give you added peace of mind.”
The tool can be accessed in the Google app by clicking on one’s profile photo and selection the Results About You option. Currently available only the US and in English, Romain said Results About You will be introduced to other locations and in other languages soon.
In other measures to boost privacy, Google said explicit images such as adult or violent content will now be blurred by default when they appear on search results. Rolling out globally, the feature can be reversed by adjusting one’s settings and turning SafeSearch off.
Users will also be able to request Google to remove explicit images of themselves that they may have uploaded to a website previously and took down later.
“For example, if you created and uploaded explicit content to a website, then deleted it, you can request its removal from Search if it’s being published elsewhere without approval,” said Romain. “This policy doesn’t apply to content you are currently commercialising.”
10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.