Google has taken a small step to help victims of revenge porn stop others from seeing their naked pictures on the Internet: On Friday, the company announced it will let victims of revenge porn ask for the removal of certain webpages from Google’s search results.

The Internet can be an amazing tool. With it, we have the ability communicate with people around the world, conduct groundbreaking research, or just look at pictures of sheep for an hour straight like I did this morning. However, we can probably all agree that the Internet has also created new opportunities for harassment and violations, which most often affect women. One such example of a new twisted threat is revenge porn.

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Revenge porn is sexually explicit media that is distributed without the consent of the individual(s) involved, and (this really goes without saying) it sucks. Until recently, laws and a general misunderstanding of the crime have made it extremely difficult for victims of revenge porn to have the porn removed. And, unsurprisingly, victim blaming is almost always involved.

In a blog post, Google said, “We’ve heard many troubling stories of ‘revenge porn’: an ex-partner seeking to publicly humiliate a person by posting private images of them, or hackers stealing and distributing images from victims’ accounts. Our philosophy has always been that Search should reflect the whole web. But revenge porn images are intensely personal and emotionally damaging, and serve only to degrade the victims.”

As the company acknowledges in the blog post, the new policy will not entirely solve the problem of revenge porn since Google cannot delete the underlying website from the Internet. But it may bring victims some comfort by making the websites harder to find.

For victims, who are typically women, revenge porn can be doubly traumatizing because there are few practical resources to remove the photos. In many cases, the photos appear on websites that permit anyone to upload a name and picture; the operators of those websites, meanwhile, are shielded by a law that provides legal immunity for user-submitted content. Even worse, such websites often work closely with “reputation defender” companies that require victims to pay hundreds of dollars to get a photo removed – a form of extortion in other words.

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The new Google policy also comes as more states move to address the problem with new criminal laws, though it is unclear at this point if all of these laws will survive constitutional scrutiny.

Asking Google to remove a search result for an unauthorized nude pictures will require people to complete a form along with the URL from the offending website. Google says this form will become available in coming weeks.

Google’s move is certainly a positive one. In our modern digital era, sharing nude photos has for many become a healthy way to express sexuality and build intimacy. Unfortunately, there are still shitty people out there who take advantage of this new trend.  Google’s attempt to help out victims is a small yet meaningful win. Thanks, Google.

Images via Fortune and boing boing

Read more on Bust.com

Facebook Updates Rules To Ban Revenge Porn & 'Hateful' Posts

A Woman's Fight Against Revenge Porn, One Naked Photo At A Time

Revenge Porn Has Become The New Post-Break Up Concern

Olivia’s first sentence was “No talk, just laugh” and since then, she’s made it her business to find the humorous side of life and share her absurd observations with others. She’s a writer, a lover of all things pop culture, and she can’t fall asleep without having 30 Rock on in the background. If you like looking at pictures of food and random dogs, you should check out Olivia’s Instagram.

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