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Google is starting to remove revenge porn from search results

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Google is beginning to remove revenge porn from its search results, limiting access to sexually explicit images that were shared without their subject's consent. In the "coming weeks," Google will open a web form that will allow people to request the removal of results showing them nude or in sexually explicit situations that they did not agree to have published. It's an important change to Google's policy that can limit the damage done by revenge porn, which is notoriously difficult to stop through legal means.

Google can make revenge porn much harder to access

"Revenge porn images are intensely personal and emotionally damaging, and serve only to degrade the victims — predominantly women," Google writes in a blog post. Though Google obviously can't wipe these images from the web, Google is such a core part of most people's experience of the web that this policy has the ability to make a dramatic change. Google notes that it is establishing a "narrow and limited policy" for these removals, similar to what it already uses to remove published bank account numbers and signatures.

Unfortunately, actually wiping revenge porn from the web and prosecuting those who publish it remains quite difficult. However, states are now increasingly moving to ban it, and in February, California became the first to prosecute someone for its distribution. The UK also has a law against revenge porn distribution, and the FTC recently used its power to prevent one website operator from continuing his practices. In addition, the policy is starting to spread online. Google is certainly the biggest name, but Twitter also recently announced a ban on revenge porn.