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Google to blur explicit images as part of new privacy tools

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 08 Aug 2023
Google releases new privacy and  personal information protection tools on its search platform.
Google releases new privacy and personal information protection tools on its search platform.

Google is rolling out new privacy tools, including SafeSearch, which features a blurring setting for explicit imagery – such as adult or graphic violent content – that can be blurred out by default when it appears in search results.

The company says the new tools aim to bolster the protection of personal information on its platform, including Results about you.

The Results about you tool, launched last year, enables individuals to request the removal of search results that contain personal phone number, house address or email. It now features a new dashboard that reveals if web results with contact information show up on Search, enabling the user to quickly request removal of those results.

Users can access this tool in the Google app by clicking on their Google account photo and selecting “Results about you”.

While the enhanced tool is initially only available in the US and in English, Google says it will be rolled out in other languages and locations “soon”.

Removing content from Google Search

A study by Ipsos revealed that South Africans’ trust in the internet has steadily declined. This is particularly true where it concerns privacy and protection of personal data. The survey, conducted across 20 countries, found that 88% of respondents in South Africa voiced concerns over privacy and control of information (higher than the 79% country average).

Siya Madikane, communications, and public affairs manager for Google in South Africa, says the introduction of the new Google Search tools and updates could not come at a better time. “The call [for] policy change along with an increased concern around privacy and the protection of personal information is evident in how South Africans are feeling. Studies have provided clear indications of where areas of concern exist, and it is up to organisations such as Google to create solutions that address these.”

Google has also updated policies on personal explicit images. The company explained that individuals are now able to remove from search any of their personal, explicit images that they no longer wish to be visible in search.

“Whether it’s for websites containing personal information, explicit imagery, or any other removal requests, we’ve updated and simplified the forms you use to submit requests. Of course, removing content from Google Search does not remove it from the web or other search engines, but we hope these changes give people more control over private information appearing in Google Search”, adds Madikane.

Pafrental control made easier
Google cites a survey conducted by Unicef which found that one third of children in South Africa are at risk of online violence, exploitation, or abuse. Entitled, ‘SA Kids Online Study’, the survey also found that 70% of children surveyed use the Internet without parental consent. 

Parental controls in Search have also been made easier to find. By typing in a relevant query like “google parental controls” or “google family link”, individuals will see a box with information on how to manage parental controls.