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Google introduces new privacy tool updates to protect user safety online

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Google has announced updates of new privacy tools in Google Search to give its users more control of their personal information, privacy, and online safety. The updated  Results about you, new SafeSearch, and updated policies on personal explicit images aim to safeguard personal information for users online.

The Results about you tool, which was launched last year, has been updated to include a new dashboard that reveals if web results with contact information are showing up on Search. Using the tool, users can then quickly request the removal of those results from Google. The tool will also notify individuals when new results from the web containing personal contact information pops up in Search. Individuals can access this tool in the Google app by clicking on their Google account photo and selecting “Results about you”. This tool is available in the U.S in English for now and will be rolled out in other languages and locations soon.

The new SafeSearch tool comes with a blurring setting for explicit imagery — such as adult or graphic violent content — that will now be blurred by default when it appears in Search results. This gives more control for the family from accidentally encountering explicit imagery on Search.  Individuals can adjust the settings and turn it off at any time, unless a guardian or school network administrator has locked the setting.

Dorothy Ooko, Head of Communications and Public Affairs for Google in sub-Saharan Africa, said: “Protecting the personal information of people on the internet is a priority for Google, and the introduction of these tools and updates will give people more control over private information appearing in Google Search.”

These new privacy tool updates come at a time when there is growing concern about privacy and safety online, particularly in Kenya. A study by Ipsos found that 93 percent of Kenyans voiced concerns over privacy and control of information, higher than the 79 percent country average. Another study report, ‘Disrupting Harm in Kenya,’ published in 2021 by a consortium of organizations including UNICEF Office of Research, found that 67 percent of children aged between 12-17 in Kenya are internet users, with about two-thirds of internet-using children not having been taught how to stay safe while engaging in the online space.

Google has also updated policies on personal explicit images. Individuals are now able to remove from Search any of their personal, explicit images that they no longer wish to be visible in Search. While this content does not apply to content that are currently being commercialized, it allows an avenue to remove non-consensual explicit imagery from 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,” added Dorothy. “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.”

The new privacy tool updates are crucial to helping individuals stay in control of their online experience and are some of the ways Google reinforces their commitment to the individual’s trust and safety on the internet.

An easier way to find and remove results about you

Launched last year the Results about you tool helps to make it easy for users to request the removal of search results that contain their personal phone number, home address or email, right from the Google app or desktop browser. The firm has significantly updated and improved the tool, helping users to keep track of their personal contact information in Search and alerting one when they find it, so you can get it removed.

Google has been working on a new dashboard that will let users know if web results with your contact information are showing up on Search. Then, you can quickly request the removal of those results from Google — right in the tool. Google notifies you when new results from the web containing your contact info pop up in Search, to give you added peace of mind.

You can access this tool in the Google app by clicking on your Google account photo and selecting “Results about you”, or by visiting goo.gle/resultsaboutyou. This tool is available in the U.S. in English to start, and will be launched in new languages and locations soon.

More control for your family

The new safeguard helps protect you and your family from inadvertently encountering explicit imagery on Search. With this update, explicit imagery — such as adult or graphic violent content — will now be blurred by default when it appears in Search results.

The new SafeSearch blurring setting is rolling out for all users globally this month. You can adjust your settings and turn it off at any time, unless a guardian or school network administrator has locked the setting.

We’re also making it easier to find parental controls directly in Search. Just type in a relevant query like “google parental controls” or “google family link” and you will see a box with information on how to manage your parental controls.  

Updated policies on personal explicit images

Google has long had policies that enable you to remove non-consensual explicit imagery from Search. Now, the firm is building on these protections to enable people to remove from Search any of their personal,  explicit images that they no longer wish to be visible in Search.  For example, if you created and uploaded explicit content to a website, then deleted it, you can request its removal from Search if it’s being published elsewhere without approval. This policy doesn’t apply to content you are currently commercializing.

More broadly, 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 you more control over private information appearing in Google Search.

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