Bridey Heing
June 20, 2015 7:14 am

Google has just announced a new policy that will hopefully make revenge porn much harder to access. The tech giant will no longer list revenge porn sites in their searches, and victims of the awful violation of privacy can request that sites be added to the list. Although it doesn’t remove content from the Internet, having these sites off of Google’s searches will be a huge step forward in keeping the images and videos posted there from reaching a wide audience.

Revenge porn is a relatively new phenomenon, but one that’s caught the public’s attention. It’s the practice of posting explicit pictures or videos, usually of a former partner, without the person in the images’ permission. It’s not only humiliating for those who are in the images — it can have devastating effects on their professional and personal life. It’s a violation of trust and privacy.

But in recent years there have been major gains and precedents set that are slowly chipping away at the ever-growing revenge porn market. Laws have been passed in a number of states that outlaw revenge porn sites, and in California a lawsuit against a man who ran one of the sites ended with him receiving an 18 year prison sentence. Meanwhile, activists continue to make sure pressure is on the government and big names on the Internet so that the conversation continues.

“Our philosophy has always been that Search should reflect the whole web. But revenge porn images are intensely personal and emotionally damaging, and serve only to degrade the victims—predominantly women,” the company’s senior vice president of Google Search said in a statement.

Google’s first step is major, as they are one of the largest search engines in the world. By removing revenge porn sites from their searches, these sites will be a lot harder to find, though not impossible. Part of why revenge porn continues to grow is that there is both supply and demand — people are willing to post private images, and people want to see them. But if people aren’t able to access the sites easily, both sides of that equation could be seriously hit.

Now that the precedent is set, hopefully other search engines will follow suit, making it extremely difficult to find any revenge porn sites without prior knowledge of the URL. Until then, it’s important to continue fighting to bring an end to this heinous and hurtful market of sites.

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