Google Updates Search to Protect Victims of Harassment

Google says it is changing search to make it harder for exploitative websites to harass their victims.

(Image: Andrew Matthews / PA Images via Getty Images)

Google is updating its search product to make it easier for victims of online harassment to block exploitative websites from appearing in search results for their name.

The changes are meant to limit access to “low-quality sites” that “employ exploitative removal practices,” Google said Thursday, such as requiring people to pay to have their personal information taken down. it occurs. Those sites are so trivial to set up that it’s easy to run harassment campaigns against people even if their data has been removed from one site—especially if new websites appear at the top of Google’s search results.

Enter these changes. “To help those who are dealing with exceptional cases of repeated harassment,” Google said, “we are implementing improvements to our approach to protecting known victims. Now, once someone has If a site with violent practices is requested to be removed, we will automatically apply ranking protection to help prevent other similar low quality sites’ content from appearing in search results for people’s names.”

The company cited a January report cited the new York Times, which wide Harassment campaigns against a software engineer and his entire family as part of the impetus for these changes. The report revealed that a single person was able to be charged with pedophilia, theft, and other crimes that feature prominently in Google’s search results. (Not that it was the only big platform involved—the lie was spread on Pinterest and a WordPress blog as well.)

Google said that its efforts to defend victims of harassment will not stop with the changes announced on Thursday, and that “as part of our ongoing work in this area, it seeks to further expand these protections.” It did not provide additional information about when the changes will take effect, how it defines “low quality sites”, or if these new protections will be applied retrospectively to victims of harassment who have already attempted to remove the site. has requested.

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