In 2022, Google launched the “Results about you” tool to help people remove personal info from the company’s search results. With billions of searches happening daily on Google, finding your private phone number or home address indexed for the world to see can be quite shocking. Luckily, new updates to “Results about you” make it easier to discover when your data pops up in Search.
Previously, you had to proactively find the links of sites hosting your personal data to report and request the removal of identifiable information. Now, you’ll be able to set up alerts for whenever your email, home address, or phone number appear on Google. At first, this update will only be available in the US and scan for results just in English.
“Results about you” is accessible in your browser or through the mobile app. For browsers, log into Google or create an account, then visit this webpage to get started. If you’re using the app (Android, Apple), tap on your profile icon, then select the option from the menu.
After the update fully rolls out, here’s where you’ll find tabs labeled Results to review and Reviewed. Input the personal data you’d like to be notified about if it appears in Search, and results containing that info will appear in the “Results to review” section. The mobile app can send you a push notification when new results are added.
For more detailed directions about what info you’ll need in order to submit the removal request to Google, check out my article that steps you through the complete process. Once your request is submitted, use the “Results about you” tool to track whether the request is in progress, approved, or denied. Here’s three things worth keeping in mind:
- This is just a request. The people at Google reviewing your request could decide to do nothing, remove the result when associated with your name, or completely remove the result.
- Some of the other personal info that you can request for removal includes social security numbers, credit cards, handwritten signatures, medical records, and login credentials.
- Google can remove the search result to lessen traffic, but you have to contact the owner or hosting service behind the webpage where it’s posted to get the data scrubbed completely.
In the past, criticism of Google’s privacy features focused on how these tools placed the onus on users to defend themselves. By streamlining aspects of the removal process for personal information and enabling proactive notifications, the company is making small, but important, moves toward less burdensome privacy controls.
“Results about you” is a free tool worth using, but if you have concerns about online doxxing, it might be worth considering a paid service as well, like DeleteMe, that tries to thwart online data brokers. Want to go even more incognito online? Try some of WIRED’s tips for disappearing from the internet.