Google Tackles Revenge Porn By Pledging to Remove It From Search Results. Hooray!

The Internet has brought us all sorts of amazing things (like Wikipedia and Netflix Instant Play), but it also has some nasty and hard-to-get-rid-of side effects (like cyber stalkers and trolls) and of these downsides, maybe the worst is revenge porn. But now Google is pledging to remove revenge porn from search results, which might not completely solve the problem, but still makes it a hell of a lot less awful. Hooray!

Revenge porn, for those who have been fortunate enough not to hear of the problem, is a phenomenon wherein people (often though not always angry exes) post nude photos of someone (usually women) online without their consent. And even though the whole thing is an obvious and appalling violation of privacy, it's still legal in most states in the US, and victims have a hard time getting the photos taken down. But with Google now saying that the company will take steps to ensure revenge porn no longer shows up in Google searches, that could go a long way towards curbing this behavior and limiting its impact. After all, Google is responsible for a pretty decent chunk of global web traffic.

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

Going forward, revenge porn victims will be able to request Google remove pages with their images from search, though the exact procedure the company will be using is still unclear. Depending on how difficult and effective the process is, it could be great, or it could be a lot of work for victims without much to show for it. Only time will tell. But at the very least, nude photos will no longer be the first thing that pops up when you Google someone's name.

There are still ways for people to access revenge porn without Google, of course, if they know the web address of a site that hosts such pictures. However, owners of such sites are increasingly facing prosecution and getting convicted, meaning there might be fewer revenge porn sites in the future, especially if a lack of Google traffic makes them less profitable. And since other tech companies like Twitter and Reddit are also cracking down on revenge porn, the problem might soon cease to be the widespread, unstoppable nightmare that is.

Of course, the best solution would be for other states to follow California's example and make revenge porn illegal altogether, but in the meantime, we'll take what we can get.

Image: Giphy