Google has expanded the types of information users can request to be removed from search results. Google already implemented a set of policies allowing users to request personal and sensitive information to be hidden from search, but the company acknowledged that it needed to do more to protect users from doxxing and various online threats.
“The availability of personal contact information online can be jarring — and it can be used in harmful ways, including for unwanted direct contact or even physical harm. And people have given us feedback that they would like the ability to remove this type of information from Search in some cases,” explained Michelle Chang, Global Policy Lead for Search at Google.
Following this new policy expansion, Google Search users can now request phone numbers, email and physical addresses, and confidential log-in credentials to be removed from search results. To request the removal of personally identifiable information to Google, users will need to prove that the presence of that information in search results is the source of explicit or implicit threats.
“When we receive removal requests, we will evaluate all content on the web page to ensure that we’re not limiting the availability of other information that is broadly useful, for instance in news articles. We’ll also evaluate if the content appears as part of the public record on the sites of government or official sources. In such cases, we won’t make removals,” Chang explained.
If Google does agree to remove personally identifiable information from search results, it’s important to note that the information will still be available publicly on the Internet. Users are still responsible for contacting a site’s webmaster to get the information removed from the Internet for good.