Apps and services often need certain information to work correctly. For example, a navigation app needs to know your precise location to provide driving directions. Tap or click here to see how apps are watching everywhere you go unless you change this setting.
Google is one of the most data-hungry Big Tech companies out there. While your data points are kept private for the most part, there could be other occasions where Google Search reveals a bit more than what you would want. Fortunately, the company is making it easier to protect personal information.
Keep reading if you want to stop Google from showing specific search results about you.
Here’s the backstory
Google is aware that not everybody is thrilled when a picture of them shows up when people search their name. Potential employers could stumble across university dorm photos or fake images that put you in a compromising situation.
You could contact the website owner where the images are hosted and ask that they remove them. But that isn’t always possible, especially when it’s a global social media platform such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
To give you some power over your photos and personal data, Google created a tool where you can request that search results omit specific details. The most common results you can have removed are personal images, fake explicit photos, personally identifiable information or images of minors.
The ability to remove irrelevant photos from Google search results is a good step in protecting privacy. But Google has gone one step further and expanded the data types you can include in a removal request.
What you can do about it
Google explains in a blog post that the internet is constantly evolving, and your data could be visible through websites you least expect. Under the revised policy for removal of personally identifiable information, you can ask Google to no longer show:
- Confidential government identification (ID) like your Social Security number.
- Bank account numbers.
- Credit card numbers.
- Images of handwritten signatures.
- Images of ID docs.
- Highly personal, restricted, and official records, like medical records.
- Personal contact info (physical addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses).
- Confidential login credentials.
If you want to put in a removal request with Google:
- Check the requirements on the Google Search Removal page.
- After ensuring that you qualify and have the necessary information, click on the Start removal request button found on this page.
Here’s what happens after submitting a request:
- You get an automated email confirmation. This confirms Google received the request.
- Google reviews your request. Each request is evaluated on specific factors.
- Google gathers more information if needed. In some cases, Google may ask you for more information. If the request doesn’t have enough information to evaluate, like missing URLs, it will share specific instructions and ask you to resubmit the request.
- You get a notification of any action taken.
- If the submitted URLs are within the scope of Google’s policy, either the URLs will be removed for all queries or the URLs will be removed only from search results in which the query includes the complainant’s name or other provided identifiers, such as aliases.
- If the request doesn’t meet the requirements for removal, Google will include a brief explanation. If your request is denied and later you have additional materials to support your case, you can re-submit your request.
This is a welcome new feature that also raises questions like, why did this take so long?