Technology

How to remove your phone number or address from Google search results

How to remove your phone number or address from Google search results
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With a simple Google search, strangers can unearth your phone number, physical address, or other personal information. You may not want that floating around the internet, or its presence could put you in harm’s way.

Now, Google says it’s making it easier to request that information be removed from search results. A new shortcut, which Google mocked in May, it will roll out to your app and alongside search results in the US for the next two weeks. Before, you could request the deletion of this type of information through this form.

The change comes as concerns about the connection between online privacy and real-life security intensify. This month the stalker forum was Kiwi Farms demolished After members of the forum spent years harassing women and those who identify as LGBTQ, they frequently posted their physical addresses and phone numbers. Victims of domestic abuse are also at risk when your personal information appears online. Some jurisdictions, including the European Union, have adopted a “right to be forgotten,” which gives individuals the right to request that their personal information be removed from company databases or from the Internet, but the United States has not adopted such law. .

In addition to requesting removal from search results, starting early next year, people can sign up for alerts if their personal information appears in new results, Google says.

“While removing these results does not remove your contact information from the web in general, we are doing everything we can to protect your information on Google Search,” said Danny Sullivan, Google’s public search liaison, in a statement.

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Here’s how to request a result to be removed: In the Google app or Chrome browser, tap or click the three dots next to a search result. A window titled “about this result” should appear. Scroll to the bottom and select the “delete result” button. After you fill out a removal form, it will take a few days for your request to be processed, Google says. You can check the status by tapping on your profile icon in the top right corner and selecting “results on you”.

The massive collection of data by companies and the government has made it increasingly difficult for victims of harassment or abuse to keep their personal information off the Internet, says Alejandra Caraballo, an instructor at the School’s Cyber ​​Law Clinic. from Harvard Law. Even if people remove their personal information from search results, it’s likely still available for purchase through data brokers, companies that amass and sell vast amounts of personal data.

“East [Google tool] it is still in the early stages, and it remains to be seen how effective it is,” Caraballo said. “A lot of this information is still available through data brokers, and that kind of sharing of people’s personal information en masse is something that needs to be looked at by federal regulators.”

Erasing your information from data broker sites requires time to submit dozens of data deletion requests or money to pay a third-party service like DeleteMe to do it for you. So while Google’s new tool won’t solve online bullying, it does give people a valuable free tool, said Nina Jankowicz, vice president of the Center Against Disinformation for Information Resilience.

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Not all anti-bullying advocates celebrate the design of the tool. Coraline Ehmke, an open source software developer, questioned Google’s approach. Why does the burden of protecting against online harassment almost always fall on individuals? she asked. How will Google determine the validity of removal requests? And why do users need to sign in to a Google account to use the “results about you” feature? Given Google’s expanding advertising business, Ehmke said she would think twice before handing over more of her personal information to submit a takedown request.

“What do we have to opt in to opt out?” she said. “It feels like privacy after the fact.”

“’Results on you’ [The feature] uses both technological improvements and human review to prevent abuse of the removal process,” said Google spokesman Ned Adriance. Google won’t share the information users enter in a removal request and won’t use it to “personalize your experience,” he said.

The new tool won’t remove your phone number and Internet address, but it’s a step in the right direction for privacy, according to Jankowicz.

“In the information environment we find ourselves in, it behooves us all to be a little bit proactive in managing our online presence,” he said. “It’s great that Google is posting this, especially for people who are frequent victims of abuse, harassment, or stalking.”

If the tool still hasn’t appeared for you or you’re trying to remove other information, such as financial information or medical records, go to this google form. You can also ask Google to remove explicit photos that are fake, posted without your consent, or appear next to your name for no reason.

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