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Google introduces a tool to assist minors in removing photos from search results

Children under the age of majority and their parents now have a simpler way to request that their photos be removed from search results.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the company stated that it is introducing a tool that will allow parents and children under the age of 18 to request that photos be removed from the images tab or that they no longer appear as thumbnails in search results.

Even though Google (GOOG) has previously allowed users to request the removal of personal information and photos that have been classified as "non-consensual explicit" or "financial, medical, and national identification," the company has now expanded this to include images of minors.

A blog post by the company explained that "we understand that children and teens face unique challenges online, especially when an image of them becomes unexpectedly available." "We believe that this change will provide young people with greater control over their digital footprints and the locations of their images on Search," says the organization. "

Users can use the new form to flag URLs of images or search results that contain images that they do not want to be displayed anymore. Specifically, Google stated that its teams will review each submission and will contact the submitter if additional information is required to verify the submission meets the requirements to be removed from the site.

Although the company stressed that this will not completely remove the image from the internet, users will need to contact the website's webmaster in order to request that the content be removed from the website.

According to the company, the tool was first announced in August as part a broader effort to protect minors across all the company's platforms. Also included was the introduction of a private default setting for all videos uploaded by teenagers at the time, in addition to a tool known as Family Link, which aids parents in keeping track of their children's online activities.

In response to criticism from experts and legislators regarding the impact of various platforms on young users, Big Tech companies have continued to expand their child safety measures in recent years. This week, Senators interrogated an executive from Google-owned YouTube, along with executives from Snap and TikTok, about the measures being taken to protect their platforms' young users.

Google's recent decision to give minors greater control over images has been hailed by some experts, who point out that removing image could also help to reduce cyberbullying and prevent potentially harmful information or photos from remaining on the internet.

"We're pleased to see Google take this long-overdue step toward giving children, teens, and their families greater control over which images appear in search results," said David Monahan, campaign manager at Fairplay, a child advocacy organization. "We're pleased to see Google take this long-overdue step toward giving children, teens, and their families greater control over which images appear in search results," he added. In addition to reversing its data collection practices, we hope Google will provide families with the ability to erase their children's digital footprints, which Google and its partners maintain on every young person in the United States.

Alexandra Hamlet, a clinical psychologist who specializes in working with teenagers, believes that Google's request process could also help parents communicate more openly with their children about managing their online presence. As part of this process, they may debate which photos are deserving of removal, such as those that could harm their future reputation versus those that appear less than "perfect."

In her opinion, "while some parents believe their teen can remove various images on their own, I recommend that they continue to discuss values and how they relate to online image," she said. "They may be passing up a fantastic opportunity to assist their adolescent in developing insight and assertiveness skills," says the author.

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