What are Google content removal policies and how they may affect access to your internet content
Google content removal policies are made out of scores of polices and community guidance notes, which are hopefully taken into consideration whenever Google is faced with a request for content removal.
One of the most important polices in this respect is the policy which determines the quality of search results. There is hardly more important topic to explore, for anyone who is upset about certain internet content, than Google removal policies and its content moderation system. How in fact Google and other search engines decide on what goes in, out, up or down on their platforms is a crucial element of anyone who wish to have internet content about them removed from the internet.
The content moderation policy of Google or Facebook, will often determine how easy or how quickly they will agree to delete harmful internet content and how successful an individual might be with their application to have content removed or delisted from Google searches.
Search engines exist to help people find what they are looking for so the priority of search engines is to index as much information as possible and at the same time, to ensure that the information presented in search results if of good quality.
To achieve this, search engines must provide a diverse set of helpful, high quality search results, presented in the most helpful order. In doing so, the search engine needs to be able to capture not only the search phrase that you typed, but also your mood, the reason for you conducting the search and the search results that you are expecting to see.
Ideally, an individuals who carries out an academic research will receive search results, which are different to those that someone who is carrying out exactly the same internet search, but for the purpose of finding a holiday destination. In other words, different types of searches need very different types of search results.
Google's guiding principle when it comes to the inclusive or the removal policies of content is that the content should provide authoritative and trustworthy information, not lead people astray with misleading content, which may surprise them by being irrelevant, unpleasant or offensive and disturbing.
It is important to understand that Googles' algorithm is not a standalone machine, which is left to its own devices to determine page ranks. There is a much higher degree of human touch to the way search results are presented and to the ranking of web pages than many people think.
Google employs an army of Search Quality Raters, who are also known as content moderators. Their job is to help evaluate search engine quality around the world and to rate the quality of the search results that are produced by the algorithm. The Search Quality Raters are in effect the human quality control element of the algorithm. What are the most important factors in Google quality rating.
The most important factors in Google page quality rating are first, that it is clear from the webpage, that it has a purpose, or in other words, that that webpage isn't a spam page which was created for the purpose of manipulating Google search results and nothing more. Second, that the webpage conveys expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.
This can only be assessed in relation to the whole website and in relation to other websites that discuss the same, or a similar topic.
Third, the quality and the amount of the content provided on the webpage. This does not necessarily mean that a lengthy page will rank higher in Google searches, but rather that the focused content of the search should be fairly dominant on the webpage.
Fourth, the information on the website or the webpage about who is responsible for the main content and what reputation both the website and those behind it have.
Google removal policies are only partly influenced by its content moderation policies. The human content moderation process is designed more as a quality control process rather than anything else. Usually, the Search Quality Raters don’t have the authority to increase or decrease the search result position of a webpage. However, those who wish to apply to Google to have content removed or delisted from search results, may quote Google content moderation policies in their request for content removal and point out that the content they ask to be removed contravenes Google content removal polices.
A successful request on this basis, might result in the complete delisting of the webpage complained of or in a demotion of the page to a place far down in Google search results.
Those who want to have content removed from Google, should carefully consult Google Quality Guidance. The guidance should give a better understanding of the policies behind some of the search results that Google searches produce, including search results that might affect very deeply both individuals and organisations.
The guide could be a useful tool to assist with content removal from Google, perhaps in conjunction with other instruments, such as GDPR or court orders that prohibit certain online publications.
In 2018, together with leading U.S internet law lawyers and many respectable academics, I was invited to attend a unique event at Santa Clara University Law School, California. For the first time in the history of the internet, tech companies’ legal leaders, attorneys and Counsel joint in together with internet policy making experts for a day of panels and discussions, which was focused on content moderation and removal policies.
Among the attendees were representatives from Facebook, Google, Reddit, Yelp, GlassDoor, Automattic, Pinterest and Wikipedia. I introduced to some of the most influencing people whose work behind the scene has the power to make or break individuals' reputation and that of a small the medium size business. This was a rate insight into the content moderation policies the people who create them for big tech internet and social media companies. I have written some of my observations in an article for the UK social media blog Inforrm’s Blog.