Google praised – but not off 'Dirty Dozen' list just yet

Google praised – but not off 'Dirty Dozen' list just yet

Google praised – but not off 'Dirty Dozen' list just yet

A major internet search engine has taken another leap to protect children online, but the firm is being urged to do even more.

For years, Google has been on the National Center on Sexual Exploitation's "Dirty Dozen" list for facilitating access to sexually explicit websites and graphic videos, and for failing to enforce its own community guidelines against hardcore pornography. However, NCOSE acknowledges that Google has taken "important steps forward" during that time to combat sexual exploitation – often in response to the group's advocacy.

In taking another of those steps, Google announced last week on Safer Internet Day that in the coming months it is going to automatically "blur" sexually explicit images in search results. The setting, according to Google, will be the new default for users who don't already have the SafeSearch filter activated in the search engine.

Lina Nealon of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) has long warned that children can easily stumble across sexually explicit images even by typing an innocent term into Google – so she applauds what she describes as a "major development" from the most widely used search engine.

"This is one that NCOSE has been asking for since 2013," she begins, "and we believe it really will help diminish the number of young people and adults alike who accidentally come across pornography. So, we're thrilled with this new development by Google."

Nealon, Lina (NCOSE) Nealon

Nealon also spotlights some other positives implemented by Google.

"They defaulted all K-12 Chromebooks to the highest safety settings rather than putting that on parents and teachers to figure out," she tells AFN. "They have recently added much easier reporting features right on images and videos – [and] they're looking at how to make it easier to report image-based sexual abuse."

So while Google has a good distance to travel to protect people, especially children, Nealon says NCOSE will continue to press the corporate giant to ensure improvements happen – regardless how much power and influence it has in society. In fact, she argues that all tech companies should follow suit and take a similar step in blurring sexually explicit content by default.

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