Google will turn on SafeSearch by default for people under 18

Child safety in online environments seems to be on the top of the figurative priority list maintained by big tech firms. Apple recently announced that it will use its photo scanning technology to detect Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) on iCloud and will also use on-device machine learning to censor sexual content sent or received by children below 13 years of age. You can find out more details here. In the same vein, Google has also revealed today about how it will be offering safer online experiences for non-adults across its range of products.

Children sitting at a doorstep looking at a phone screen

First up is a policy change through which Google will allow people under the age of 18 or their parents and guardians to request the removal of their images from Image search results. While this obviously won't remove the image in question from the internet altogether, it will definitely reduce its visibility.

Next, Google has announced some changes that it will be making to its products specifically for children under the age of 18 in the coming weeks and months. SafeSearch will be turned on by default for new and existing accounts owned by people under the age of 18. This feature is used to filter explicit results from Google Search and was previously enabled by default only for children under the age of 13 and with Family Link configured. K-12 institutions using Workspace for Education will have SafeSearch enabled by default too and Incognito and Guest modes will be blocked as well. The technology will also be used to restrict mature results surfaced by Assistant on shared devices.

Uploads to YouTube will be private by default. More digital wellbeing features will be made prominent on the service as well, including turning off autoplay, break reminders, and more. On the Google Play Store, the company will be adding a new section for apps which follow Families policies. It will also describe the data that apps collect in more granular detail so parents can make informed decisions.

Finally, Google will improve its advertising practices so that mature ads, including targeted ones, are not shown to teens. The company will also be working on preparing more documentation and guidance for teenagers and parents to understand its data practices.

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