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A guide to removing your personal information from Google search

It’s unsettling to know that strangers can find your personal information in a couple of seconds by simply using Google search, so no wonder you would like to remove it. Find out what information you can remove from Google and how to do it.

A guide to removing your personal information from Google search

Why remove personal information from Google?

The main reason for removing your information from Google search is to protect your privacy and security. Surely you don’t want anyone prying into your personal life or taking advantage of your data. Here is why you might want to remove personal details from Google search results:

  • To protect your privacy. You might not want your personally identifiable information readily available to anyone searching the web – for example, your physical address or bank account number. By limiting the amount of personal data available via Google search, you reduce the chances of identity theft, cyberstalking, harassment, and other privacy-related risks.
  • To enhance your online security. Cybercriminals might use your information, such as your name or social security number, for phishing attacks, identity theft, or financial fraud. The less personal information Google can display about you, the less attractive a target you become for cybercriminals.
  • To avoid unwanted attention. Removing personal details from Google search results makes it harder for people to find you online and helps you maintain a lower profile and avoid unwanted attention.
  • To maintain your professional image. Erasing outdated, inaccurate, or negative information can help you present a more accurate and professional image to potential employers, clients, and colleagues.

What information can you remove from Google?

You can remove your personal information that is outdated, inaccurate, or violates Google’s guidelines from its search results. You can also remove sensitive data, defamatory or non-consensual explicit content, and copyrighted material without proper authorization. You can ask Google to blur the images of your home on Google maps as well.

You can contact Google and request it to remove personally identifiable information, including:

  • Personal contact information, such as your home address, email address, and phone number.
  • Personal identification numbers, for example, your social security number, passport number, or driver’s license number.
  • Bank account and payment card numbers.
  • Images of your handwritten signatures.
  • Images of your identification documents.
  • Restricted and official records like your medical history.
  • Confidential login credentials.

Google also allows users to remove information that is highly personal and could harm them, for example:

  • Non-consensual or explicit images (commonly referred to as revenge pornography).
  • Fake pornographic content (involving the insertion of your likeness into sexually explicit scenarios without your consent).
  • Inappropriate adult content linked to your name in Google search results.
  • Content about you on sites with exploitative removal practices.
  • Explicit images featuring minors.

Google and its alternatives have specific policies and procedures in place for handling requests to remove personal information. Google might remove your information upon your request if it is outdated, inaccurate, or violates the search engine’s policies, but in some cases it might refuse to do so — Google assesses each request on a case-by-case basis.

How to remove your personal information from Google

If you’ve been wondering how to remove personal information from Google, you can follow our guide below and take the appropriate steps. First, google yourself to find out what information is out there. Then delete your Google search activity and proceed with the following steps.

Fill out Google’s content removal form

If you want Google to remove your information from its search results, you must submit a removal request:

  1. Visit Google’s webpage for filling out the removal request form.
  2. Select “Remove information you see in Google Search.”
  3. Choose where you want the information to be removed from — either “In Google’s search results and on a website” or “Only in Google’s search results.”
  4. Continue filling out the removal request form and specifying what type of content you want to be removed.

Contact the website owner

Another way to prevent your information from appearing in Google search results is to contact the owner or the administrator of the website that is hosting content about you and ask them to completely remove your information. If you have an issue with the quality of the information, you can ask them to update it and make it more accurate instead of removing it altogether.

If the information you seek to remove is sensitive, harmful, or violates applicable laws (for example, constitutes defamation or copyright infringement), you might submit a legal request to remove your information. For removing content based on country or region-specific laws, visit Google’s support webpage for reporting content and fill out the reporting form.

Delete social media profiles

To restrict your personal information available online, you can delete your social media profiles containing your photos, videos, and posts revealing information about your personal or professional life that you don’t want strangers to see. This will diminish your digital presence by reducing the amount of data search engines like Google can index. And if you are willing to reduce your online presence even more, check out our tips on removing yourself from the internet.

Review your privacy settings

If you do not wish to take the extreme measure of deleting your social media accounts, you can adjust the privacy settings of your accounts. With most social media networks, you can make your account private, which means that search engines will not display the information available on your profile.

Regularly monitor your online presence

You should routinely check what Google knows about you by googling your name and reviewing the search results. By discovering outdated, inaccurate, or sensitive content about yourself, you can take timely action to make sure that unwanted information does not linger on Google, putting you at risk.

Risks of leaving personal information online

It is risky to leave your personal data unattended on Google. You should be aware of what information is out there, otherwise you are risking your privacy and security:

  • Identity theft. Cybercriminals might use your information available on Google, like your name, birthdate, home address, or social security number, to steal your identity, open fake accounts, or carry out financial fraud.
  • Stalking and harassment. The more personal details you have available on the web, the easier it is for a criminal to contact you, stalk you, or harrass you to extort money from you or intimidate you.
  • Data breaches. The more personal information you provide on websites and social media platforms, the higher the risk that this information will end up in the wrong hands. You can never be sure if an online platform hosting your content will not suffer a breach that will put your information at risk.
  • Targeted advertising. Online platforms collect your data to offer youtargeted ads. If you are not interested in receiving them, provide only minimal data about yourself or none at all.
  • Phishing attacks. If cybercriminals obtain your information, they might use it in a spear phishing attack. They might craft an email, such as a Google security alert, or a message using your information to make it more convincing and trick people you know into clicking malicious links, downloading malware, or sharing sensitive information.
  • Reputation damage. Having inaccurate, unflattering, or outright defamatory information about yourself online can damage your reputation in the eyes of your peers and professional contacts.

You should regularly monitor your personal information online and take the appropriate steps to remove the unnecessary data from Google search results or websites and online platforms hosting it.