If you are worried about your privacy online, you might want to check out Google's latest feature. The search giant has announced that it will now send you notifications when it finds your personal contact information, such as your address, phone number, or email, on the web. This way, you can review and request the removal of that information from Google Search.
Google says this feature is part of its “results about you” dashboard, and builds on last May's update that allows users to request their personal information be removed. The dashboard allows you to see and manage your online presence on Google, such as your photos, videos, social media profiles, and more. You can access the dashboard by signing into your Google account and searching for “me” on Google.
With the new update, you can also input your contact information on the dashboard and let Google do the searching for you. The dashboard will automatically pull up websites that contain any matches and let you review each webpage it appears on. You can then submit a request to remove your information from Google Search if you don't want it to be publicly visible.
Google says this feature is especially useful if you are a victim of doxxing, which is when someone publishes your personal information online without your consent, often with malicious intent. By receiving notifications when your information pops up on the web, you can act quickly and protect yourself from potential harm.
New Method for Removing Explicit Content
However, Google also warns that removing your information from Google Search does not mean it is completely erased from the web. People can still find your information if they visit the webpage it is on directly.
In its official blog post, Google says it is also adding tools to help people remove explicit content of themselves, whether they uploaded it themselves or not:
“We have long had policies that enable you to remove non-consensual explicit imagery from Search. Now, we're building on these protections to enable people to remove from Search any of their personal, explicit images that they no longer wish to be visible in Search. For example, if you created and uploaded explicit content to a website, then deleted it, you can request its removal from Search if it's being published elsewhere without approval. This policy doesn't apply to content you are currently commercializing.”
Google also has some limitations on the kinds of search results it can and can't remove and won't take action on results from governments or educational institutions. The feature is currently rolling out in the US in English to start, and Google says it is working to make it available in other countries and languages soon. If you are in the US, you can start using the tool on the official results about you page here.