How to Ask Google to Remove Underage Image Search Results

Exercising any control over the internet seems impossible, but Google has finally thrown frustrated families a lifeline.

On Wednesday, Google announced that minors (or their parents or guardians) can request that their photos be removed from image searches. Google announced it would do this in August, but now there’s a way to do it.

Companies or scammers can scrape social media accounts and then reuse those images to create fake online identities or for other unauthorized uses.

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen recently claimed that Instagram knowingly jeopardizes the mental health of young women. This has led to congressional hearings on whether Facebook, Google-owned YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok are doing enough to protect children who use their services.

Google notes that it does not control the websites on which the actual images are hosted, which makes removing an image from search results different from removing it from the internet altogether.

If you’re a minor, the legal parent or guardian of a minor, or an “authorized representative”, here’s how you can request removal of images of minors from Google search results.

  1. Identify the image URL, not the website URL.

  2. Identify the URL of the search results page, this is Google’s URL.

  3. Identify the search terms you know that will deliver the image accordingly.

  4. Press the “Start removal request” button on this Google help page.

  5. Fill in the form. After answering the question “Have you contacted the website owner of the site?”, it will ask you what you want to remove. Select the “Imagery of a person currently under the age of 18” option.

  6. A new imagery multiple-choice question will appear asking if “the imagery of the individual currently under the age of 18 is” explicit or non-explicit. Select the appropriate option.

  7. Google will generate a new form. This is where you will fill in all the details, including your ID and contact details, as well as the URLs mentioned above. You will also have the option to upload a screenshot. Fill out the form, sign it and press submit.

  8. Be on the lookout for email communications from Google, as they may request more information.

Michael C. Garrison