The Internet has become an indispensable tool in our daily lives – a way to stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues across great distances and through life changes.
However, that incredible opportunity is sometimes a risk. Something we want to share with a specific person or group at one point in time can end up being seen by millions, even years later or in a completely different context. As soon as we post something on the internet, we relinquish control to some extent over who sees it.
There are certain things we probably never want to be fully public or easily searchable in seconds, like 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 years, people have been able to request the deletion of certain sensitive, personally identifiable information from Search, such as doxxing, or information such as bank account or credit card numbers that could be used for financial fraud.
Under this new policy extension, people can now request the deletion of additional types of information when they find it in search results, including personal contact information such as a phone number, email address, or physical address. The policy also allows additional information that could pose a risk of identity theft, such as confidential credentials, to be removed when it appears in search results.
In addition to this type of information, you may also have deleted:
- Your citizen service 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 this, or to learn more about the process, visit their takedown request page. Fill out their simple form with a link to the web page that displays your personal information, a link to the Google search results that redirect users to your personal information, and any screenshots that indicate what content you want removed.
The process is not automatic; Google says it reviews and evaluates each request to see if removal makes sense. And even if Google removes it from search results, that’s not the same as removing it from the Internet – some people may still find it through social networks with someone else who has the link, for example.