Trying to scrub your personal information from search engines can feel like a losing battle, but Google's rolling out more tools to help empower users. The company announced a suite of upgraded and simplified privacy tools that make it easier than ever to find and remove your contact information from its search results.
Users will have the option to receive notifications from Google when their address, phone number or email address pops up in search results, allowing them to review and request that information be removed.
This new tool builds on Google's Results About You dashboard, which it launched in September. Google plans to roll out the upgraded dashboard "in the coming days," according to a blog post on Thursday.
The biggest difference with the update is that now you'll be able to find your information on Google without having to conduct a search for it yourself. Just enter your personal information, and the dashboard will automatically comb through the web and flag websites that contain any matches, which you can then review and submit a request to remove that information if need be. Additionally, you can opt to be alerted when your personal data's shared online moving forward.
"We’ll also notify you when new results from the web containing your contact info pop up in Search, to give you added peace of mind," Google said.
Previously, you'd have to enter your personal information into Search to find instances of it being shared online, and then manually request its removal. Now Google's simplified the process significantly, putting everything from requesting removals to identifying search results within the Results About Your dashboard.
To access the dashboard, click on your Google account photo and select "Results about You." Or you can head there directly by visiting goo.gle/resultsaboutyou. At the moment, the upgraded tool is only available in the U.S. in English, though Google says it's "working to bring it to new languages and locations soon."
In that same blog post, Google also announced it's simplifying the process for requesting explicit imagery be removed from search results. In the past, Google's policy only allowed users to request nonconsensual explicit imagery be removed. Now, users can request the removal of any personal explicit images they'd prefer not to appear in search results. An important caveat to that is the policy does not apply to "content you are currently commercializing," meaning content creators will still need to rely on DMCA takedown requests if their content is being shared or reposted without their permission.
It's just one of a host of new tools and upgrades Google's adding to Search to make it more useful than ever. The company introduced its new Search Generative Experience (SGE) earlier this year, which uses artificial intelligence to summarize the web pages that appear in search query results. This week, users noticed references appearing alongside SGE page results, hinting that Google may be working on getting its AI-powered search engines to cite its sources as well.