Google provides “Results About You” to remove personal data

An image of an article titled Google will notify you when your phone number and physical address appear in the search results

Illustration: Jody Serrano / Gizmodo

Starting today, people in the United States will be able to use Google’s new ‘Results About You’ feature, which aims to make it easier for people to extract sensitive personal information from company search results. Next year, the About You Results feature will become proactive and allow users to opt-in to receive alerts when new personal information about them appears in the search results, allowing users to request deletion more quickly.

Google has announced that it will officially launch Results About You first exposed on I / O in May, at the Search On 22 event on Wednesday. With Results About You, users can request the removal of their personally identifiable information with just a few clicks. This information includes physical addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses. This feature is also the center of all Google’s content removal policies, such as social security numbers and bank account numbers, and directs users to forms requesting the removal of this information.

The new Google Results About You feature is designed to streamline the takedown process for personally identifiable information that you don’t want to post online.
GIF: Courtesy of Google

According to Danny Sullivan, Google’s public search liaison, the company realizes that people have become more sensitive about sharing their personal information with anyone. They just don’t feel comfortable with it, Sullivan Gizmodo said in an interview, and would prefer the information not to be so readily available.

Before the results about you, Google had few ways to remove personally identifiable information from the index as the company has a very limited deletion policy.

“Basically, if it’s not spam and it’s not something illegal – for example, we have laws that we need to respond to, such as child sexual abuse content – we usually leave it there and trust our ranking system to try to show the most useful things. that we can, said Sullivan. He added: “But this was a case where we said that there is sufficient interest in owning this type of thing, and we believe that these concerns can be met without affecting the search results in a way that does not make them less useful to people.”

An example of the appearance of alerts in the Results about you function next year.
GIF: Courtesy of Google

Results About You is not a feature hidden in Google’s site maze. It is available on the Google app. All you need to do is tap on your profile picture and select Results About You from the drop-down menu. If you are a Safari user like me, you can also access results about you in individual search results.

Google told Gizmodo that once Results About You is fully rolled out, it will be available on Android, iOS, and the web. Some Android users already received the function last week.

For those who aren’t into tech, and even for those of us, Google’s content takedown policy can inspire a lot of exploding head emoticons. The company owns Byzantine network of politicians—From unapproved removal and counterfeit pornography to policies for pornographic content or websites that charge for the removal of personal data.

All of these rules can make it difficult to determine which to quote or what procedure to follow when requesting content removal. This is something Results About You wants to change, said Sullivan. When you use the tool, you are asked what type of content you are reporting for removal. Is it personal contact details or out of date information? Or is it something more serious, maybe illegal? This allows Google to align the type of information it reports with its takedown policy, Gizmodo said.

Regarding how long it takes Google to check deletion requests, which will be analyzed by both humans and automated systems, Sullivan told Gizmodo it would take several days. If your request is denied, an appeal process will be available.

Overall, Google’s Public Search Liaison wants people to know that the company has a new tool available to extract personal information from the search results of the world’s most popular website.

“If there’s something uncomfortable with your search, you have a new way to report it and possibly remove it under the right circumstances,” Sullivan said.

Correction 09/28/2022, 14:46 EST: In the previous version of this article, it was stated that the new Google tool will allow users to request removal of their social security numbers, bank account numbers, and login information. The tool and its alerts only cover physical addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses.

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