Common Ways On How To Remove Your Personal Information From Google

how to remove personal information from google search results

Have you ever Googled yourself? You should try it, because for most people it’s an eye-opening experience. You’ll be staring at your computer screen wondering “just how in the world did Google get all of that information?”. It really is shocking, because while you’d expect Google to have some basic information about you, you probably didn’t expect them to know about family members, the taxes you pay, previous speeding tickets, and just about everything you’ve ever posted on social media. 

Here’s why: Google has zillions of little cyberbots crawling the web, visiting the billions of web pages on the Internet. Every time it finds your name embedded on one of those pages, it adds that information about you to your Google search results. Some people don’t care, in fact, they like having their life story available for all to see. Others, not so much. And for good reason: a lot of that information is out of date, or it’s embarrassing and could hurt your chances of being offered employment, it could also ruin your chances of having a relationship, or it could just be things that your friends will use to make fun of you with. 

But the biggest reason why you want all of that information off of Google is that it can lead to identity theft, a problem that’s costing consumers over $56 billion each year. 

Can You Really Remove Your Information From Google? 

The answer is, “it depends”. If you want to remove personal information from Google, you need to know what can and can’t be deleted. Some information is locked in and is untouchable, while other information is subject to Google’s rules and regulations on removing it. But what most people don’t realize is that Google only reveals what’s already on the web that’s all about you. So, in order to remove information from Google, your first step is to remove the web pages that Google is getting that information from. 

These could be web pages that you have control over, like your own websites, for example. Or, it could be information on web pages that your friends or business associates have posted about you. These might include former employers’ websites, articles and blogs you might have published, and anything that was published without your permission. Contact the owner and ask that the information about you be removed. If you’re not sure who owns the website where your content is located, do a “Whois” search to get the owner’s name. 

The information on websites where posts were done by friends or colleagues is a little harder to delete on your own, as you’re not the “owner” of that content. You’d need to either ask your friends or business associates to have it removed, or you can write to the owner of the web pages asking for their help in removing any outdated or sensitive information. Google will remove inaccurate information, Social Security numbers and other national data, financial and bank data, and other information deemed either inaccurate or information that was obviously stolen. 

They will also remove non-consensual sexual images as well as what is often referred to as “fake pornography” and deep fakes which are becoming increasingly hard to differentiate from real photos and videos. In fact there are some states that have enacted laws requiring Google to remove sensitive information or information that can lead to financial or other harm, with California being the most determined state. 

Removing Data That Ends Up On Google 

Remember, Google merely collects data with their cyberbots crawling the web, so once you remove that data it won’t appear on Google any longer. One of the biggest sources of personal information is people-search sites, like Intelius, Spokeo or Whitepages. The sooner you can get that unauthorized personal information off of those sites, the better. 

One word of caution: once you begin sending out opt-out requests, chances are you’ll end up with tons of spam in your inbox. One workaround is to use disposable email accounts, through services like E4Ward, Mailnator and EmailOnDeck, among others. 

The problem is, it’s often easier said than done. That’s because there are more than 100 people-search sites, and even if you were able to remove your information from the well-known sites, it will still appear on Google because that information is still existing on lesser-known people-search sites. 

The key is to get them off of all those sites. However, be aware that each site has its own rules and protocols on how you must remove your data and opt out. That would take you weeks upon weeks to do it manually, filing removal complaint after policy violation complaint over and over again. You may need to file DMCA violation complaints, cease and desist order request, or other legal submissions and that can often require an experienced specialized attorney. And if you’re thinking about hiring someone to do it for you, know that it’ll be extremely costly considering the time involved and the knowledge needed. It all depends on the content in question and a myriad of other factors.

Another source of data that appears on Google is social media sites, like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The goal is to limit the amount of information people can see about you, so you’ll need to go to each site’s privacy settings (they may call it something else, like safety and security), and turn the settings to private. This will prevent Google’s bots from gathering the data posted on those sites. 

You should be proactive as well, by removing posts that you feel would embarrass you, including photos, so it can’t be used against you. If you feel that you wouldn’t want a child or a prospective employer to see the post, delete it. The more that you can protect your privacy, the better. Remember, you’re trying to avoid identity theft, which is the ultimate goal of hackers searching for your personal and financial information. 

Get Off Google

By starting with a Google search on yourself, and then requesting websites remove any of your information that was published without your permission, you’ll have a good chance of having that data removed from Google. A lot of people and businesses go through great lengths with SEO and PR to get their information visible on Google search engine results, but it can be just as hard or harder to get removed from them. The less Google publishes about you, the safer your identity will be from stalkers, hackers, blackmailers, and online impersonators.

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