How often have you punched your name into Google and stumbled upon long-forgotten photos, ancient usernames, or even digital breadcrumbs from a past life? Worse still, ever found your old home address or phone number staring back at you?
The digital age has its perks, but unintentionally publicizing our personal data isn’t one of them. Enter Google’s solution: a proactive tool to have your back in the vast ocean of online information.
This past August, Google rolled out a fresh feature for its search engine, dubbed “Results About You”. This nifty tool gives users a heads-up when their personal details show up in a Google search. Not just a passive alert system, it grants users the power to see the exact places their data appears and, if they wish, to yank that page out of Google’s search list.
Furthermore, in a world where online harassment is sadly prevalent, “Results About You” becomes an essential ally against doxxing threats.
Bundled with Google’s growing suite of privacy tools and on-the-horizon offerings, individuals can feel a tad more secure about their online presence – or at least, about how Google portrays it.
Enabling Results About You
Ready to take charge of your digital presence? Here’s a step-by-step guide to setting up Google’s “Results About You” alerts:
- To begin, ensure you have a Google account. If not, create one. If you already do, simply log in.
- Head to the “Results About You” activity page.
- Click on the “Get Started” button and heed the instructions popping up on your screen.
- Google will prompt you to list down the contact details you want to be alerted about. This isn’t limited to just one entry – feel free to include multiple names, residential addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.
- Decide how you’d like Google to give you the heads up. Your choices? Either an email to your registered Google account or push notifications to your Google-connected devices.
- Once set up, Google takes the wheel, combing through search results for any mention of your listed details. Do note, this maiden voyage through the vast seas of data can take a couple of hours.
- Changed your phone number or shifted houses? No worries. Revisit the “Results About You” page whenever you like to update or modify your contact details.
Deleting your personal data from Google Search
While Google might be the maestro of search, it doesn’t have the magical power to erase content from websites it doesn’t own. However, it does offer a helping hand in scrubbing certain personal details from its own search pages.
Wondering how to put in a plea to Google to delist personal data from its search outcomes? Here are the steps:
- Visit the “Results About You” activity page.
- Click on “Results to review.”
- Notice any results that shouldn’t be there? Simply tick the blue checkbox beside the result(s) you wish to flag for removal.
- Once selected, hit the “Submit request” button.
- Google won’t just blindly obey; they’ll evaluate your request based on their established policy parameters. Curious about your request’s progress? You can keep tabs on its status right on the “Results About You” page. Plus, if you have second thoughts, there’s an option there to reverse any removals.
Remember, while Google offers tools to better manage your online visibility, it’s always a good idea to be cautious about the personal details you share on the internet. After all, prevention is better than cure!
If you’d rather go through a more general channel, Google’s got you covered with its Help Center removal form. Here’s how to tread that path:
- Navigate to Google support’s personal content removal form.
- Be prepared to input specifics about the content you’re concerned about. This might mean sharing screenshots, pointing out URLs of problematic search result pages, or jotting down the exact search queries that led to the unwanted results.
- After ensuring everything is in order, hit “submit” on the form.
If you’re keen on diving deeper into how Google manages privacy or if you want to fine-tune your digital veil, the Google Safety Center is your treasure trove. Make it a pit stop to educate and empower yourself about the digital traces you leave behind.