Google makes it even easier to remove your personal information from search


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The edge

According to a report by 9to5Google. Google announced the feature earlier this year at its I/O conference, saying it would be coming to the Google app.

Google already had a way to remove search results that contained your home address, email address, or phone number, as well as a host of other types of potentially dangerous or harmful information. However, this system was not necessarily the easiest to access or use. If you found a search result related to your sensitive information, you need to go to a support page and fill out a form containing the URL you want to remove from search results.

Animated gif showing the process of deleting results in the Google app.
GIF: Google
The process of adding Google in the app is easier than the traditional way.

With the new tool, you can directly make a request from the search page; If you see a search result linking to a page with your information, you can tap the three-dot button next to it to access the ‘About This Result’ panel, which will have a ‘Delete Result’ option. From there, you can submit a request to have that result removed.

There’s also a “Results about you” screen that you can access by tapping on your profile picture in the Google app, which lets you track information removal requests you’ve made and see their status. According 9to5Google, you will also be able to initiate a new request from this screen for various other search result removal requests, including those containing outdated or illegal information. As Google notes in its support document, this process only de-indexes those web pages from its search results; someone could still access this information if they went directly to the site where it is posted.

Google did not immediately respond to The edgerequest for comments on the duration of the deployment.

Earlier this year, Google updated its policies regarding the removal of personally identifiable information. The change was relatively complex, and you can read more here, but the simplified version is that it lowered the bar for what Google would remove. The old rules allowed you to remove personal contact information from search results if someone tried to dox you, but the review process involved asking if those results could actively harm you. This process still exists, but the process for removing personally identifiable information is less stringent; until it is “determined to be in the public interest”, it should be removed from the results.

This new tool doesn’t change the actual process – it just makes it much more convenient to access. Since finding your address or phone number in a search result can be quite shocking, making it hard to remember where to find the form to take it down, it’s good that Google makes it easy to start the process.

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