- Without any warning, Google removed the View Image button from image search results.
- Also removed is the “Search by Image” button, but the “Visit” button remains.
- The moves were made to deter image theft and encourage searchers to visit full pages instead of just the image.
In a move that will no doubt frustrate many people, Google removed the View Image button in all Google image searches today. If you visit images.google.com and perform a search query, selecting an image will no longer give you the option to view that image on its own.
Google gave no direct explanation for the change, although one can readily assume it was to cut down on image theft and lost ad revenue. The View Image button gave bots an easy way to pull images from all over the web and use for whatever nefarious purposes imaginable, and when visitors pull just an image from the site, they don’t see any of the site’s advertisements or even have an opportunity to engage with the content surrounding the image.
The Search by Image button is also being removed. Reverse image search *still works* through the way most people use it, from the search bar of Google Images.
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) February 15, 2018
The news broke from the official Google Search Liaison Twitter account. In the statement about removing the View Image button, an emphasis was made that the Visit button remains. Now, when you search for an image, you will have to visit the website in its entirety to grab the image for your own use.
This move was likely made in response to the partnership Google made with Getty Images just days ago, which was put in place to help reduce copyright infringement on the internet.
With the amount of copyrighted material that gets used online without any accreditation or permission, sites have already been making images harder and harder to download. Many sites convert traditional image formats like JPEG and PNG to different formats that browsers will not allow you to save easily. Traditionally, you would be given the option to “Save image as…” when right-clicking an image, but with these new formats that option does not appear.
Granted, it is still somewhat easy to open up the browser’s code explorer and find the raw image link that way. But for the vast amount of web users, this would be beyond their skill level. What Google is really trying to do here is stop the average user from having an easy way to download images they don’t own and of which they are not a rights holder.
Savvy Google image search users will notice that the “Search by Image” button has been removed as well. However, you can still do a reverse image search from the search bar of Google Images, and by right-clicking an image and performing a Google search.