Google announced on April 27 that the public can now submit removal requests for additional Google Search results containing personal information. The company previously had a very high bar for getting results with sensitive info wiped away. It can be frightening to have your email address, phone number, or home address pop up in a search result, and you need to take action to protect your privacy.
In addition to the removal of personal information, Google is considering removal requests for images of minors, deepfake pornography, and other explicit content. Although getting results scrubbed from Google Search won’t remove web pages from the internet, it will divert one of the biggest drivers of traffic.
There’s no guarantee that unwanted search results will disappear completely, however. As a result of your request, the web page could be removed from all searches on Google, only searches involving your name, or none of the above. For more information about disappearing digitally, check out our tips on deleting yourself from the internet from senior writer Matt Burgess.
As part of the announcement, Google’s Global Policy Lead for Search, Michelle Chang, wrote, “Open access to information is a key goal of Search, but so is empowering people with the tools they need to protect themselves and keep their sensitive, personally identifiable information private. ” The new procedures can protect against malicious doxxing, as well as information leaks that are only implicit threats.
To begin the removal process, visit the topic’s support page, scroll halfway down, and click the blue Start removal request button. You will initially be asked whether you have reached out to the owners of the website. It is not necessary to do this, so you can just tap No, I prefer not to. When Google asks what you would like removed, select: Personal info, like ID numbers and private documents.
Then you can specify what type of personal information is showing up in Google Search, such as your contact details or driver’s license. These steps are only for removing results from live websites; there’s a separate form to fill out for cached pages. Check the box indicating that the content is live. The next question asks whether the request pertains to doxxing, which Google defines as “contact information being shared with malicious, threatening, or harassing intent.”