With a new, streamlined approach for children under the age of 18 to request removal of photographs of themselves from Google Search results, Google hopes to give youngsters and parents greater control over how their image is used online.
According to 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 procedure is simple: people who want their image deleted from search results should go to this linkand fill out the removal request form.
Users must input the image's URL, as well as the URLs of any pages that contain the image. In order to gain a thorough picture of what needs to be deleted from Search, Google also asks for the search phrases that return the image result, to the best of your knowledge.
Google will then evaluate the request and update you on its status. However, Google emphasizes that removal from search results does not imply complete removal of the image, and consumers would need to contact individual websites to have such removed.
The change is part of a broader trend at Google toward user protection, in response to changing privacy regulations – particularly the EU's laws on digital identity protection and the exploitation of personal information obtained online.
The EU's 'right to be forgotten' laws have compelled all platforms to change their privacy policies, and the US Congress is considering new regulations regarding minors' internet exposure, which is another element in this recent development. In August, Google also implemented stricter YouTube rules for young users.
It'll be interesting to watch if the move results in an increase in removal requests, and whether this has an influence on websites that employ UGC or other sorts of content and inadvertently include people who don't want to be included on their pages.
For marketers, this means obtaining specific consent from people before using their image in promotions, as well as taking extra safeguards with younger people. Otherwise, you risk receiving Google penalties, which could negatively affect your referral traffic.
More information regarding Google's new removal process may be found here.