Google has announced a variety of new digital tools and changes to products designed to better protect young users while they’re online. The announcement comes only days after Apple revealed its controversial decision to proactively check images on users’ devices to detect harmful content and help prevent the exploitation of minors.
According to Google, kids and teens under the age of 18 (or their parents/guardians) can submit a request for Google to remove their images from its search results. This won’t remove the images from their source, of course, but it will make it harder for others to find these images.
Beyond that, Google plans to automatically turn on SafeSearch by default for existing users who are under the age of 18, plus it will be the default settings for new accounts made by teens. YouTube will also change its default upload settings to the highest privacy level by default for users ages 13 to 17.
Other products and features that will be changed under this announcement include Google Assistant, Google Play, Location History, and Google Workspace for Education. Location History, for example, will soon be off by default with no option to turn it on for all accounts belonging to users under the age of 18.
Google Assistant, meanwhile, will soon get “new default protections,” according to Google, which is also tweaking some of its ad rules to prevent ad targeting based on the categories of interests, age, and gender for users under the age of 18.
As for the new tools, YouTube will soon disable autoplay for users under the age of 18, as well as introducing new digital wellbeing filters for blocking podcasts, webpages, and news on smart devices featuring Google Assistant. Users around the world will also start seeing new materials that simplify Google’s data practices so that anyone can understand them.