Google's looking to give kids and parents more control over how their image is used online, with a new, simplified process for those under the age of 18 to request removal pictures of themselves from Google Search results.
As per Google:
“While we already provide a range of options for people seeking to remove content from Search, we know that kids and teens have to navigate some unique challenges online, especially when a picture of them is unexpectedly available on the internet. With a newly implemented policy, anyone under the age of 18, or their parent or guardian, can now request the removal of their images from Search results, following a few simple steps. This means these images won’t appear in the Images tab or as thumbnails in any feature in Google Search.”
The process is fairly straightforward – users requesting to have their image removed from search results can go to this link and fill in the removal request form.
Users will need to enter the URL of the image, as well as the URLs of any pages that include the picture. Google also asks for the search terms that return the image result, to the best of your knowledge, in order to get a complete view of what needs to be removed from Search.
From there, Google will assess the request and advise on any progress. Google does also note, however, that removal from search results is not equivalent to removal of the image entirely, and users will also need to contact individual websites to have such taken down.
The update comes as part of a broader shift towards user protection at Google, in line with evolving privacy restrictions – and in particular, the EU’s laws in regards to digital identity protection and the misuse of personal information sourced online.
The EU’s ‘right to be forgotten’ laws have forced all platforms to adjust their privacy policies, while US Congress is also weighing new regulations in regards to the online exposure of minors, which is another factor in this latest shift. Google also introduced new regulations for young users on YouTube back in August.
It’ll be interesting to see whether the change ends up seeing an uptick in removal requests, and whether that could impact websites that use UGC or other content types, and unwittingly include people who would prefer not to be showcased on their pages.
For marketers, that will put more emphasis on getting explicit permission from people to include their image in your promotions, and to take more precautions with younger people in such. Otherwise, you could run the risk of seeing Google penalties, which could impact your referral traffic.
You can learn more about Google’s new removal process here.