Thanks to online databases and the long memory of the internet, it can be shockingly easy for someone to find your personal details, from a street address to your alma mater. If you’d prefer to have a more discreet profile online, Google may be able to help.
According to Gizmodo, the search engine recently launched a tool dubbed Results About You that will allow users to request that their personal information be removed from search results. To use the service, you need to log into the Google app, tap your profile picture, and click Results About You from the dropdown menu. From there, you can request Google eliminate your address, phone number, and email when people search your name.
You may not see the option right away, as Google is still in the process of rolling it out for iOS, Android, and web users. You may also see an About This Result option for a specific search result by clicking on the three-dot icon next to the page. From there, you can click on Remove Result. Google will accept a request to remove the page from search results if it contains personal information.
Danny Sullivan, Google’s public liaison for Search, told Gizmodo that the option was created in response to user requests for a simplified method of having certain private information kept out of search results. “Prior to when we made the change, if you wanted personal information removed, you had to show doxxing,” Sullivan said. “But the ordinary person’s like, ‘Well, I wasn’t doxxed. Do I have to be doxxed to just not have the stuff that I prefer not to be there?’ And our solution is, ‘No, you don’t.’ Everybody can just have it removed. It really is broadening it toward people who don’t necessarily have some concern of harm that they’re actually having to show … [they] just would feel more comfortable if it’s just not there for whatever reason.”
Google doesn’t have an exact time table for when a request may be fulfilled, and there may be instances where they’re not able to meet the request. But the Results About You feature will direct users to other methods of having other kinds of information removed, like social security numbers or bank account numbers.
Remember that a successful petition to have the page removed only removes it from Google’s search results, not from the web entirely. It will remain on whichever page contains the information and will likely pop up in other search engines.