Google is updating its algorithm to remove websites that slander and extort people. The "circle of slander" has been reported about at length in The New York Times this year: websites post unverified claims of cheating, scamming, and sexual predation about individuals, then charge those people thousands of dollars to remove the offending content. Until now, those websites would often feature prominently in Google search results for certain names.
- Google says it will remove some personal information from its search results if the website owner who published the information won't do it themselves.
- Sites that publish personal images, fake pornography, financial or medical information, or addresses would be affected by the change.
- Google's Vice President of Trust and Safety David Graff said the change won't be a "perfect solution," but a step in the right direction. "We can’t police the web, but we can be responsible citizens," he said.
- Since its inception, Google has been hesitant to alter search results, seeing itself as a neutral presenter of web results. In the last few years, it has softened its position, opting to make updates that would "surface more authoritative content" in an attempt to clamp down on fake news.