Google is finally letting you make sure your personal information doesn’t show up in online search results — and all it took were hundreds of thousands of requests over nearly a decade.
The Alphabet-owned internet search giant recently rolled out new policies and tools that make it quick and easy for users to request removal of personal data — like your phone number, email address or even a physical address — search results. Previously, users had to show evidence of potential harm, such as doxxing or identity theft, to have Google remove their personal information from search results, the company noted in an April blog post.
Now your information is removed from these results for any reason – and with the click of a button.
“For many people, a key part of feeling safer and more private online is having greater control over where their sensitive and personally identifiable information can be found,” wrote Danielle Romain, vice president. -president of the Google Trust, in a separate blog post on Wednesday. .
Importantly, not all requests are guaranteed approval: the company cannot remove your personal data from its search results if the information is newsworthy – for example, if it appears in a relevant news article – or if included on any government or other official website. source, according to Google.
“It is important to note that when we receive removal requests, we will assess all content on the webpage to ensure that we are not limiting the availability of other widely useful information, for example in news articles,” notes the company in Wednesday’s blog post.
Currently, anyone can fill out an online form to submit a removal request. On Wednesday, the company announced a new tool coming soon, where users who find their personal information in search results will be able to request removal of that data with just a few clicks. The company said the tool will be available “in the coming months.”
The company said it wanted to process all removal requests quickly and that decisions would be made through a combination of algorithmic tools and human oversight of requests.
On the online form, you can click on the option “remove certain personally identifiable information (PII) or doxxing content from Google search”. From there, you’ll answer a series of questions about the type of personal information appearing in search results, the URLs of websites displaying the information, the search terms used to display those results in Google searches, and even screenshots of websites and search results.
The form also asks if your personal information is being shared “with doxxing intent”, if it includes explicit content, or if it should be deleted for legal reasons.