How to remove your phone number and address from Google search

How to remove your phone number and address from Google search

From a simple Google search, strangers can find your phone number, physical address, or other personal information. You may not want it floating around the internet – or its presence could put you at risk.

Now Google says it’s easier to request that information be removed from search results. A new shortcut, which Google teased in May, will be rolling out in its app and next to search results in the US over the next two weeks. Previously, you could request the deletion of this type of information via this form.

The change comes amid growing concerns about the link between online privacy and real-life security. This month, the Kiwi Farms stalker forum was taken down after forum members spent years harassing women and people who identify as LGBTQ, frequently posting their physical addresses and phone numbers. Victims of domestic violence are also at risk when their 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 deleted from company databases or the Internet, but states States have not passed such a law. .

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

“While deleting these results does not remove your contact information from the web as a whole, we do our best to protect your information on Google Search,” said Danny Sullivan, Google Public Liaison for Search. , in a press release.

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Here’s how to request a result 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 down and select the “delete result” button. After you fill out a deletion form, your request will take a few days to process, Google says. You can check the status by tapping your profile icon in the top right corner and selecting “results about you”.

Massive data collection by corporations and government has made it increasingly difficult for targets of harassment or abuse to keep their personal information off the internet, says Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic instructor Alejandra Caraballo. Even if people remove their personal information from search results, it’s likely still available for purchase from data brokers, companies that accumulate and sell massive amounts of personal data.

“This [Google tool] is still in its early stages, and its effectiveness remains to be seen,” Caraballo said. “Much of this information is still available through data brokers, and this kind of bulk sharing of people’s personal information is something that needs to be looked at by federal regulators.”

Cleaning up your information on data broker sites either takes the time of submitting dozens of data deletion requests or the money of paying a third-party service like DeleteMe to do it for you. So while Google’s new tool won’t solve online harassment, it does give people a valuable free tool, said Nina Jankowicz, vice president of the Anti-Disinformation Center for Information Resilience.

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

“What should we choose to withdraw?” she says. “It feels like intimacy after the fact.”

“ ‘Results About You’ [The feature] uses both technological enhancements and human review to prevent abuse of the removal process,” Google spokesperson Ned Adriance said. Google won’t share the information users put in a removal request or use it to “personalize your experience,” he noted.

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

“In the information environment we find ourselves in, it’s incumbent on all of us to be a bit proactive in managing our online presence,” she said. “It’s a good thing that Google is rolling this out, especially for people who frequently experience abuse, harassment, or harassment.”

If the tool hasn’t appeared for you yet, or if you’re trying to remove other types of 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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