The internet has become an indispensable tool in our daily lives — a way to stay connected with friends, family and coworkers across great distances and through life changes.
That incredible opportunity is sometimes a risk, however. Something we choose to share with a specific person or group at a certain time can end up seen by millions, even years later or in a completely different context. Once we post something to the internet, to some degree we’re relinquishing control over who sees it.
There are certain things we probably never want completely public or easily searched in seconds, such as our home address or phone number.
In 2022, Google made it easier to get those details out of public view by allowing you to remove them from search results. In a blog post, Google explains:
“For many years, people have been able to request the removal of certain sensitive, personally identifiable information from Search — for example, in cases of doxxing, or information like bank account or credit card numbers that could be used for financial fraud.
Under this new policy expansion, people can now request removals of additional types of information when they find it in Search results, including personal contact information like a phone number, email address, or physical address. The policy also allows for the removal of additional information that may pose a risk for identity theft, such as confidential log-in credentials, when it appears in Search results.”
In addition to those types of information, you may also have removed:
- Your Social Security number
- Bank account numbers
- Credit card numbers
- Images of your written signature
- Images of identity documents
- Medical records and other official private records
- Logins and passwords
To ask Google to do so, or learn more about the process, visit their removal request page. Fill out their simple form with a link to the webpage that displays your personal information, a link to the Google search results that connect users to your personal information and any screenshots that specify the content you want removed.
The process is not automatic; Google says it reviews and evaluates each request to see whether removal makes sense. And even if Google does remove it from search results, that’s not the same as removing it from the internet — some people may still ultimately find it through social networking with someone else who has the link, for example.
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