How to Remove Personal Information from Google
“The internet never forgets” is a term that you’ve probably used before, especially when your friend is trying to post a risky photo or an ill-advised tweet. However, sometimes you realize that this phrase applies to you, and you want to pull off some information about you off the internet. What do you do?
This article covers what to do when you want to remove personal information from Google.
Is Your Personal Information On Google?
You’ve probably tried to Google yourself and have found some things that you did not want to be in public.
Google is a search engine; it does not host the information that you find on websites. Instead, it aggregates data from numerous websites across the web and shows it to the searcher.
So, if you find personal information on Google, you might not be able to take it completely off the internet yourself. However, you can request for it to be taken off from Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
What Information Can You Completely Erase from the Internet?
You might not be able to control what personal information is posted about you, especially if fraudulent people publish it. However, legally, there are a few types of information that you can request to be totally removed from a website. These include content that falls under these categories:
1. Infringement of Copyright
If someone uploads your content and that Infringes your copyright, you can make a DMCA request to take it down. The website that uploaded it would be compelled to pull down such content.
2. Sexual Abuse
If the content you would like to be removed is a product of child sexual abuse or inappropriate images of children, you can request it to be removed from the websites.
3. Financial Information
If your personal financial information is uploaded on a website, you can request to remove it. This includes your account numbers, social security numbers, credit card information, etc.
What Sort of Information Will Google Remove?
Google can remove the following personal information from their SERP:
1. Involuntary Fake Pornography
If someone falsely depicts you performing a sexual act or being nude, you can request Google to take down or de-index that information. Google will remove it if it follows these requirements:
- You can be identified in the image/video
- The image/video is fake and you were not actually in that situation
- The image/video was distributed without your consent.
To get this content off, you can fill a Google image removal form.
2. Content Uploaded for Exploitative Reasons
Some people will upload content about you solely for exploitative reasons. They will upload such content demanding something in return for them to remove such content. In such cases, you can request Google to remove it from the SERP. If your request meets the following requirements, they can consider it for removal:
- You’re the subject of the content on the website
- The website does not publish business reviews
- The website makes it necessary for you or other people to pay to remove the content
3. Sensitive Financial, Medical, and National Information
If a piece of Information could cause identity theft or fraud, Google can remove that sort of content from the SERP.
Of course, information like your name, birthday, or spouse’s names is not included in such information as it’s considered public information. However, if you find any of the following types of information, you can request for Google to remove it:
- Personal medical records
- Credit card information
- Bank account number
- National I.D numbers
You’ve probably seen a few social media wars escalate to people posting contact information of another person along with malicious threats. That’s doxxing.
You can get personal information removed from the internet on the grounds of doxxing if it fits the following requirements:
- If your contact information was shared
- If there is a presence of threats and calls for others to threaten, harass or harm you
5. Non-consensual explicit or intimate personal images
Some people take explicit personal images/videos but do not consent to them being published. When that does happen, you can request to remove it from Google. The content has to meet the following requirements:
- It has to show you nude, in a sexual act, or an intimate state.
- You did not consent to the act or, you didn’t agree to the image being taken, or you didn’t consent to its public distribution.
How to Remove Private Information from Google
Here’s what you need to do to remove your personal data from Google:
1. Delete it Yourself
If you’re the one who uploaded said data on your social media platforms, you can delete it yourself. You would often find that you can find a tweet you made ten years ago if you can search properly on Google.
Another option is to review the privacy settings on your social media accounts. For instance, if you set your Instagram to private, your instagram posts will not appear on random Google searches.
2. Contact the Owner of the Website
This is usually the first step to take. If you perceive that your personal information has been published without your knowledge, you can contact the website owner to take such a post down permanently.
You can reach the website owner through their contact address or do a random Google search to find them. In dire situations, you could go as far as contacting the website’s hosting company to help you reach the website owner.
3. Contact Google
If you cannot get the website’s owner to take down the content, you might have to contact Google to remove such content. Now, you must understand that Google does not save any information on the website, so it cannot delete them.
However, Google can remove the content from its SERP. This does not mean that people cannot access it from other search engines or cannot click directly on the URL to find the pages.
Quick Steps to Remove Your Personal Information from Google SERP
1. Take screenshots of the offensive content. In the case of sexually explicit content, you’re allowed to blur out sexually explicit portions of the content. However, you must make sure that you’re still recognizable.
2. Copy a sample URL for the SERP where the content appears.
3. Find out what category your removal request belongs to.
4. Fill out a personal information request form or ask an authorized representative to do so.
With numerous attempts to breach privacy on the internet, you should be doubly mindful of the sort of information that you post about yourself online. You should also do a frequent sweep of the internet to find out if your personal information is online.
Once you find personal information that shouldn’t be there, it is important to take steps to get that information off the internet. If you can’t, you can use the above-listed steps to get it removed from Google’s Search engine pages and make it less accessible to the public.