We invest heavily in fighting child sexual abuse and exploitation online and use our proprietary technology to deter, detect, remove and report offences on our platforms.
We partner with NGOs and industry on programmes to share our technical expertise and develop and share tools to help organisations fight CSAM.
Learn more about our child safety toolkit here.
Fighting abuse on our own platforms and services
Google has been committed to fighting child sexual abuse and exploitation on our services since our earliest days. We devote significant resources – technology, people and time – to deterring, detecting, removing and reporting child sexual exploitation content and behaviour.
What are we doing?
We aim to prevent abuse from happening by ensuring that our products are safe for children to use. We also use all available insights and research to understand evolving threats and new ways of offending. We take action not just on illegal CSAM, but also wider content that promotes the sexual abuse of children and can put children at risk.
Detecting and reporting
We identify and report CSAM with trained specialist teams and cutting-edge technology, including machine learning classifiers and hash-matching technology, which creates a 'hash', or unique digital fingerprint, for an image or a video so that it can be compared with hashes of known CSAM. When we find CSAM, we report it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), which liaises with law enforcement agencies around the world.
We collaborate with NCMEC and other organisations globally in our efforts to combat online child sexual abuse. As part of these efforts, we establish strong partnerships with NGOs and industry coalitions to help grow and contribute to our joint understanding of the evolving nature of child sexual abuse and exploitation.
How are we doing it?
Fighting child sexual abuse on Search
Google Search makes information easy to find, but we never want Search to surface content that is illegal or sexually exploits children. It's our policy to block search results that lead to child sexual abuse imagery or material that appears to sexually victimise, endanger or otherwise exploit children. We are constantly updating our algorithms to combat these evolving threats.
We apply extra protections to searches that we understand are seeking CSAM content. We filter out explicit sexual results if the search query seems to be seeking CSAM, and for queries seeking adult explicit content, Search won’t return imagery that includes children, to break the association between children and sexual content. In many countries, users who enter queries clearly related to CSAM are shown a prominent warning that child sexual abuse imagery is illegal, with information on how to report this content to organisations like the eSafety Commissioner's Office in Australia. When these warnings are shown, users are less likely to continue looking for this material.
YouTube’s work to combat exploitative videos and materials
We have always had clear policies against videos, playlists, thumbnails and comments on YouTube that sexualise or exploit children. We use machine learning systems to proactively detect violations of these policies and have human reviewers around the world who quickly remove violations detected by our systems or flagged by users and our trusted flaggers.
While some content featuring minors may not violate our policies, we recognise that the minors could be at risk of online or offline exploitation. This is why we take an extra cautious approach when enforcing these policies. Our machine learning systems help to proactively identify videos that may put minors at risk and apply our protections at scale, such as restricting live features, disabling comments and limiting video recommendations.
Our CSAM Transparency Report
In 2021, we launched a transparency report on Google’s efforts to combat online child sexual abuse material, detailing how many reports we made to NCMEC. The report also provides data around our efforts on YouTube, how we detect and remove CSAM results from Search and how many accounts are disabled for CSAM violations across our services.
The transparency report also includes information on the number of hashes of CSAM that we share with NCMEC. These hashes help other platforms identify CSAM at scale. Contributing to the NCMEC hash database is one of the important ways that we, and others in the industry, can help in the effort to combat CSAM because it helps reduce the recirculation of this material and the associated re-victimisation of children who have been abused.
Reporting inappropriate behaviour on our products
We want to protect children using our products from experiencing grooming, sextortion, trafficking and other forms of child sexual exploitation. As part of our work to make our products safe for children to use, we provide useful information to help users report child sexual abuse material to the relevant authorities.
If users have a suspicion that a child has been endangered on Google products such as Gmail or Hangouts, they can report it using this form. Users can also flag inappropriate content on YouTube and report abuse in Google Meet through the Help Centre and in the product directly. We also provide information on how to deal with concerns about bullying and harassment, including information on how to block users from contacting a child. For more on our child safety policies, see YouTube’s Community Guidelines and the Google safety centre.
Alliances and programmes
We are an active member of several coalitions, such as the Technology Coalition, the ICT Coalition, the WeProtect Global Alliance and INHOPE and the Fair Play Alliance, that bring companies and NGOs together to develop solutions that disrupt the exchange of CSAM online and prevent the sexual exploitation of children.
Together we fund child safety research and share tools and knowledge, such as our insights into transparency reporting, in-product detection and operational processes.
Ad Grants through Google.org
Google.org offers grants to organisations leading the fight against child sexual abuse and exploitation, like INHOPE and ECPAT International. Additionally, since 2003, Google.org has given approximately $90 million in free advertising budget to NGOs and charities who operate child sexual abuse reporting hotlines, helping them reach those who need support the most.
Google Fellow programme
We fund technical fellowships at organisations dedicated to fighting child sexual abuse like NCMEC and Thorn. In addition, Google provides training to law enforcement officials investigating online crimes against children through forums such as the Crimes Against Children Conference and the National Law Enforcement Training on Child Exploitation.