Have you ever Googled yourself and stumbled upon some less than savory information or simply something you wouldn’t want to be easily found? As Google states, it’s important to control how people can find your sensitive, personally identifiable information (PII), so now you can. Using a new Google tool, users can request their PII be removed from Google search and “take control of their online presence.”
With phishing scams on the rise, controlling how your information shows up on the web is paramount to personal security. While things don’t necessarily disappear from the web, being able to hide information from searches makes targeting the individual significantly harder for criminals looking to make a quick buck from a scam. To this end, Google has previously had a set of policies that “allow people to request the removal of certain content from Search, with a focus on highly personal content that, if public, can cause direct harm to people.” However, the internet and criminals alike are evolving, and Google’s policy must follow suit.
In the past, users could request the removal of sensitive information, which could be used for fraud. Under the new policy, users can request that information such as phone numbers, email addresses, or physical addresses be removed from Google Search. Moreover, people could request the hiding of confidential log-in credentials; however, we hope people change them regularly — especially if they have been compromised — to make this last piece irrelevant.
In any event, if you happen to find some unsavory information on a Google search, you can reach out to Google via the removal request support page and start the process. Of course, not all information is instantaneously removed as Google must “evaluate all content on the web page to ensure that [it’s] not limiting the availability of other information that is broadly useful” or “the content appears as part of the public record on the sites of government or official sources.”
Further, this does not mean the content is removed from the internet, so keep that in mind if you go through with something like this. Either way, though, this is a massive improvement for Google and everyone’s personal security online. As such, let us know what you think of this policy change and if you find it useful in the comments below.