In 2022, Google launched the “Results about you” tool to help people remove personal info from the company’s search results. With billions of searches happening daily on Google, finding your private phone number or home address indexed for the world to see can be quite shocking. Luckily, new updates to “Results about you” make it easier to discover when your data pops up in Search.
Previously, you had to proactively find the links of sites hosting your personal data to report and request the removal of identifiable information. Now, you’re able to set up alerts for whenever your email, home address, and phone number appear on Google. At first, this update will only be available in the US and scan for results just in English.
“Results about you” is accessible in your browser or through the mobile app. For browsers, log into Google or create an account, then visit this webpage to get started. If you’re using the app (Android, Apple), tap on your profile icon, then select the option from the menu.
After that, tap on the Get started button. Press Next two times, then you’ll arrive on the page where you can provide personal info. In addition to your name, the three available options to fill out are: home address, phone number, and email.
Enter the information you would like the tool to scan for, and check the box confirming that the information provided is really yours. On the last page, you choose how you’d like to receive notifications. Google can send you an email when your info is discovered, and the company’s app can also send a push notification on your smartphone.
This next step may be the most challenging: It’s time to wait. Yes, it’s nerve-racking. When I input my information for a scan, the process took around an hour and a half, although your experience may be different. Anything it finds will be listed in the Results to review section. In this section, you can check when the tool performed a scan last.
For more detailed directions about what info you’ll need in order to submit the removal request to Google, check out my article that steps you through the complete process. Once your request is submitted, use the “Results about you” tool to track whether the request is in progress, approved, or denied. Here’s three things worth keeping in mind:
- This is just a request. The people at Google reviewing your request could decide to do nothing, remove the result when associated with your name, or completely remove the result.
- Some of the other personal info that you can request for removal includes social security numbers, credit cards, handwritten signatures, medical records, and login credentials.
- Even though Google can remove the search result to lessen traffic, you have to contact the owner or hosting service behind the webpage where it’s posted to get the data scrubbed completely.
In the past, criticism of Google’s privacy features focused on how these tools placed the onus on users to defend themselves. By streamlining aspects of the removal process for personal information and enabling proactive notifications, the company is making small, but important, moves toward less burdensome privacy controls.
“Results about you” is a free tool worth using, but if you have concerns about online doxxing, it might be worth considering a paid service as well, like DeleteMe, that tries to thwart online data brokers. Want to go even more incognito online? Try some of WIRED’s tips for disappearing from the internet.