How Google has destroyed the lives of revenge porn victims

How Google has destroyed the lives of revenge porn victims, by Carrie Goldberg.

At this point in time, nobody accepts a date, new hire, roommate or even college applicant without first doing a Google search. Google, with its 5.6 billion searches a day and ownership of 92.19 percent of the search-engine market share worldwide, enjoys a virtual monopoly on all of our reputations. …

One case:

One of our clients was 20 and a junior in college when she responded to the ad for bikini models and flew to San Diego to shoot the video.

After her video was posted online, she told us, “I had to change my major and career choice. I lost a lot of friends, and my family wouldn’t talk to me for a while.” …

We sent affidavits to Google urging them to remove the videos.

Google’s policies dictate only two instances when they will remove content — child pornography and copyright-infringement requests.

The current policy says Google may remove nude or sexually explicit images that were shared without consent, but the company maintains sole discretion about when to remove nonconsensual pornography. If Google decides it will keep linking to a website that contains your nude images, victims are just out of luck. And there’s no appellate body. There is no law, only corporate policy, that protects (or fails to protect) victims’ most private information. …

Google knew these women had been tricked, held captive, sexually assaulted and humiliated and were suffering because of the exposure it was causing, but corporate interest dictated total indifference. To this day, Google will not remove those links from their search-engine results. The graphic evidence of abuse now haunts these women as they apply for jobs, use social media, seek roommates, date. Most of these women remain underemployed, terrified and unable to lead normal lives because Google won’t lift a finger on the basis of its cynical corporate policy.

Another case:

In one case, our 18-year-old client “Anna” was horribly exploited by older men three times her age who videoed themselves having violent sex with her. It wasn’t long before the videos began to populate the first five pages of her search-engine results. Over the next several years, the stalking, harassment and death threats from her “fans” became unbearable. My client moved and everybody in her family changed their names, yet somebody found her new name and posted that online. The video followed her because of Google.

Initially, Google refused to remove the video because they said she didn’t own the copyright and their revenge-porn policy, they say, doesn’t apply to what they call “regret porn.”

Faulty justification:

During a congressional hearing … Representative Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said, “[If] you want positive search results, do positive things. If you want negative search results, don’t do negative things.”

But it’s not that simple. So long as anybody with an Internet connection can create content, and websites have no liability regarding the truthfulness of that information, our so-called “positive actions” can’t ensure “positive search results.”

As I say at my firm, we are all a moment away from having our life overturned by somebody hell-bent on our destruction. If somebody wants to take us down, they use the Internet to spread inescapable lies.

The bottom line:

Many people accept the ranking of search-engine results as a naturally occurring phenomenon. But deliberate decisions go into the algorithms that decide who sees what. They are business decisions. …

The vast majority of Google’s revenue comes from ads, thus requiring that its traffic stay high and that it not upset the industries — especially the always-profitable porn industry — that pay handsomely for ads.

I switched to using DuckDuckGo for searches more than a year ago. I don’t miss Google searches, and I do object to their evil.