Google has recently updated their spam policies for web search and the guide to ranking systems to provide more insight into how they handle sites with a high number of non-consensual explicit imagery and requests for their removal. The changes specifically mention sites that charge for the removal of negative information but also address demoting content on other sites that engage in similar exploitative removal practices. This means that a report about one site can trigger the demotion of other sites with similar behaviors.
Google has been removing “revenge porn” from their search index since 2015 and these changes are a continuation of their efforts to combat exploitative content. The kind of imagery Google is targeting includes the sharing of intimate images without the consent of the individual whose picture is being publicly shared on a website.
The changes to Google’s spam and demotion guidance include adding specific reference to “non-consensual explicit imagery removals.” This includes applying demotions to content on sites that receive a high volume of doxxing content removals as well.
The update also involved the removal of a reference to automatic systems designed to prevent non-consensual explicit personal images from ranking highly in response to certain queries. The reasoning behind this removal is not explicitly stated, but it is assumed to be redundant with the parts of the policy that already address demotions.
In the Guide to Search Ranking Systems, similar edits were made, including the removal of the reference to automatic systems and the addition of language addressing the triggers for removal demotions from Google’s search results. This includes the added reason for demotion as sites that experience a high level of “non-consensual explicit imagery removals” requests.
Overall, these updates provide clearer guidance on Google’s approach to sites that engage in exploitative removal practices and further emphasize their commitment to demoting content that violates their policies. The updated policies can be found on Google’s website for those who wish to review them in further detail.
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