Those seeking complete internet anonymity will want to scrub any mentions of themselves from Google’s search results as well. Depending on one’s notoriety, some users might find this process more challenging others. Sadly, there isn’t an easy red button that deletes all your personal information from Google. While apps like Facebook make it easy to delete your account, on Google you have less control over your personal information. Since Google merely indexes information from other websites, you will also need to go to the source. Below we give an overview of the steps you can take to erase your presence in Google.
What Data Does Google Remove?
While removing yourself from Facebook is a simple and automatic process, removing yourself from Google takes some work. It requires an actual Google employee to review your situation. Apart from what Google is legally obligated to remove, things like illegal content involving children and DMCA takedown requests.
On request the company may also remove personal information like:
- Bank account numbers
- Social security numbers
- Medical records
- Images of signatures
- Explicit images that were uploaded without the subject’s consent
It is good that these things can be removed because they can play a big part in cybercrimes like identity fraud and revenge porn. To help people that are the victims of these types of crimes it is detrimental that that information is deleted from the search results.
To get information mentioned above erased from the Google Search results you can submit a request for removal. Remember that Google can still refuse your request for removal.
What Data Doesn’t Google Remove?
Unfortunately, Google explicitly states on their Removal Policies page that they typically don’t honor requests to remove dates of birth, addresses, phone numbers, or other publicly available information from the search results. In this case, your best bet is to manually remove yourself from the individual sites. Clear your profiles of personally identifiable information or delete your accounts entirely.
Moreover, if the information you wish to remove is on a website, getting it removed from Google will not make it disappear.
How to Remove Yourself from Google’s Search Results
If you find personal data that Google won’t remove and that you don’t have access to, consider contacting the individual website owners directly. There are several ways you can do this. Look for an email address or a Contact Us link, usually found at the bottom of the site’s homepage. If you can’t locate the administrator’s contact information on the actual website, Google suggests performing a WhoIs search to find the site owner. In Google, type whois www.website.com, and look for Registrant Email or Administrative Contact. If that fails, a final resort would be to contact the company that hosts the website in question. This hosting information is also available via a WhoIs query.
Removing personal information from the internet can be quite a hassle. The best precaution is thinking twice before you post something. However, whether we posted it ourselves or not we should be able to take down information that we do not want to share with the world (any more). Google can be helpful in that respect if they think someone’s safety is at stake. However, they still deny a lot of removal requests. Sometimes you will have to fight the good fight yourself.
Have you ever tried to have information removed from Google? What was your experience? Furthermore, what is your opinion of Google’s policy to not remove publicly available information like addresses and phone numbers? Let us know in the comments.