Google to improve Search to better protect people from repeated harassment

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on June 12, 2021

Tech company would apply ranking protections to help prevent content from low quality sites appearing in search results

Google is making improvements on Search to further prevent repeated harassment.

The tech giant is bettering its approach to protect unknown victims from repeated harassment.

“Now, once someone has requested a removal from one site with predatory practices, we will automatically apply ranking protections to help prevent content from other similar low quality sites appearing in search results for people’s names,” Google said in a blog post.

“We’re also looking to expand these protections further, as part of our ongoing work in this space,” it said.

The change was inspired by a similar approach that it had taken with victims of non-consensual explicit content, commonly known as revenge porn, it said.

It further explained that certain Search queries are more susceptible to bad actors and require specialised solutions. One such example is websites that employ exploitative removals practices.

“These are sites that require payment to remove content, and since 2018 we’ve had a policy that enables people to request the removal of pages with information about them from our results,” it said.

Beyond removing these pages from appearing in Google Search, Google has also used these removals as a demotion signal in Search. This is so that sites that have these exploitative practices rank lower in results. The solution is effective in helping people who are victims of harassment from these sites.

However, there were some limitations to Google’s approach when it comes to “extraordinary cases of repeated harassment,” one of which was highlighted by a report in the New York Times, it said.

Published on June 11, 2021

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