Google / Screenshot by NPR
Google is offering a new tool for anyone who doesn’t want their phone number, email or mailing address and other personal information found online: users can request that their contact details be removed from search results. research.
“The availability of personal contact information online can be shocking,” said Michelle Chang, Google’s global policy manager for search, as she recently announced the change. She noted that the data could lead to “undesirable direct contact or even physical harm.”
The new policy significantly lowers the bar for Google to remove data from search results. While it previously offered to sanitize personal and financial information in the event of an actual or potential threat – such as doxxing or identity theft – the company says people can now request their information be deleted even if it is not there is no clear risk.
You can fill out a form to remove your details from search results
Anyone wishing to submit a deletion request can use a special online form that guides users through the process. It asks for things like the URL of any web pages displaying your personal data, as well as the search terms and Google search URL you used to find those pages. He also recommends including screenshots.
“It’s important to remember that removing content from Google search won’t remove it from the internet, so you can contact the hosting site directly, if you’re comfortable doing so,” Chang said.
Even with the changes, there are still a few reasons why Google might deny a removal request. They primarily deal with information deemed “substantially useful” or part of the public record, such as newsworthy data or documents that are published on government sites or other official media.
In addition to contact information, you can ask Google to remove results that include login credentials and other sensitive data.
Google also recently changed its policy on photos of minors.
The new search policy comes six months after Google made another change to allow minors or their caregivers to request that their images be removed from its search results. The change came as Google and other tech companies came under fire for their policies toward children and minors.
One of the biggest early adjustments to Google’s search tools came from Europe, where the case of a Spaniard establishing the “right to be forgotten” in 2014. In the four years since , Google said, people made more than 650,000 requests to remove specific websites. from their search results.
Editor’s note: Google is one of NPR’s financial sponsors.