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Google can now remove search results that annoy you

Google can now remove search results that annoy you

Google says it is expanding the types of personal information it removes from search results to cover things like your physical address, phone number and password. Before now, the feature mostly contained information that would allow someone to steal your identity or money - now, you can ask Google to stop showing certain URLs that point to information that someone wants to know about you. home or give them access to your accounts.

According to a blog post, Google is giving people new options because "the Internet is always evolving" and its search engine giving your phone number or home address can be both annoying and dangerous. Here's a list of what types of information Google may remove, with the new additions in bold (h/t in the Wayback Machine to make the old list accessible):

Confidential government identification (ID) numbers such as U.S. Social Security Number, Argentina Single Tax Identification Number, etc.
Bank account number
Credit Card Number
handwritten signature picture
id docs pictures
Highly personal, restricted and official records, such as medical records (used to read "confidential personal medical records")
Personal contact information (physical addresses, phone numbers and email addresses)
confidential login credentials
According to a help page, Google will also remove things like "non-consensual explicit sexual or intimate personal images," obscene deepfakes or Photoshop showing your likeness, or links to sites with "exploitative removal practices."

Making the request involves giving Google a list of URLs that link to personal information, as well as search pages displaying those links. After you submit a request, Google will evaluate it. Its FAQ states that it "attempts to protect information access if the material is determined to be of public interest," "newsworthy," "professional-relevant," or has come from the government. In terms of content. If Google decides that the links should be removed, it says that they either won't appear for any search queries or they won't appear for searches that include your name.

Google appears to be enforcing a relatively high bar for personally-identifying information, which makes it a bit different from the so-called systems it's supposed to apply in places like the European Union. Rules have to be enforced in order to comply. Those laws request people to remove links they deem ineffective or irrelevant, which isn't here — the rules Google added today only include links to very sensitive information.

It's also unclear whether Google will remove sites that explicitly exist to sell people's information. If you've ever searched for someone's phone number, you may have come across one of these services, which promises to give it to you when you subscribe. We've asked Google about this and if we get a reply, we'll let you know.

Importantly, as Google notes in its support page and in its blog post, Google does not delete information it retrieves from searches from the Internet. If, for example, you ask Google to delist a forum post containing your address, anyone visiting that forum will be able to see it; If someone searches for "[your name] home address" the post shouldn't pop up.

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