Google has been addressing an issue with mugshot sites to push them down in search results, the New York Times reveals today in an article.
Such sites post photos of those who have been arrested and charge a fee for their removal, which can range from $30 to $400, or even higher.
What makes them popular is that they appear high up in Google searches regularly whenever a name of someone who has been previously arrested is keyed in. The New York Times notes that Google had not been penalizing these sites for getting their images and text from third-party sources, going against the search giant’s ethos that websites should be promoted if they have original material, and demoted for copying.
However, Google has now found that these sites apparently do not comply with a certain guideline, and has taken action to demote them since Thursday, rolling out an amendment to its algorithms that has led to mugshots being pushed back and listed beyond the first page.
In an excellent piece about how mugshot sites affect people who have once been arrested, the New York Times also reached out to several financial companies that enabled these sites to receive payments for mugshot removal services.
Ultimately, MasterCard told the newspaper that it is in the process of terminating these mugshot site accounts as customers, while PayPal also said it is putting an end to support for such mugshot removal payments. American Express and Discover also said they were pulling the plug for payment support for mugshot sites, while Visa was asking merchant banks to investigate business practices of these sites.
Headline image via Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images