In the digital world that we now live in, your personal information finding its way to the search results on Google is increasingly becoming commonplace. Maybe the information you entered on a particular website got leaked, or maybe someone just wants to document some information about yourself. The end result is the same.
For celebrities and other public figures, this might not be such a big deal, as they are used to the public knowing virtually everything about their lives. However, for the average Joe, who might just want to live his/her life in peace and quiet, having their personal information available on the search results is not such a good idea.
This has not escaped the attention of Google, prompting the tech giant to introduce a way in which users can request for their personal information like phone numbers and home addresses to be removed from their search results.
The implementation is currently being tested in the US before its eventual rollout to other regions in the coming months. Opening the Google app on Android and tapping your profile avatar in the top right corner reveals a new “Results about you” menu item.
This directs users to a page that explains how they can request Google to remove search results that contain phone numbers, home addresses, email or other personally identifiable information like credit card numbers, handwritten signatures etc.
When you come across personal information and would like it to be removed, click on the menu that appears in the top right corner of each result. There will be a “Remove Result” option at the bottom of your screen.
After following the laid out process, Google gives you a way to follow the progress of the information being removed from the search results. There are a few stages like “In progress” and “Approved” to ensure the feature is not being taken advantage of by malicious people. Google also asks you why you want the results to be removed, in the form of the following questions;
- It shows my personal contact info
- It shows my contact info with an intent to harm me
- It shows other personal info
- It contains illegal info
- It’s outdated
“It’s important to note that when we receive removal requests, we will evaluate all content on the web page to ensure that we’re not limiting the availability of other information that is broadly useful, for instance in news articles. And of course, removing contact information from Google Search doesn’t remove it from the web, which is why you may wish to contact the hosting site directly if you’re comfortable doing so,” reads part of a previous blog from Google.
Meanwhile, the company is still working on a feature that will let users opt-in to receive alerts if new results with their contact information appear so that they can quickly request their removal. Google says this feature will be available early next year.