So You Just Googled Youself...

Category: Search-Engines

Have you ever Googled your own name, address or phone number? In an age of powerful search engines, social media, and changing attitudes about privacy, you might be shocked to see what a casual searcher can learn about you. If you're okay with that level of transparency, then fine. If not, read on for some tips on what you can do about it...

Removing Personal Information From Google

If you ever search for yourself on Google, you may be surprised by the results. Things you posted on social media without thinkihg twice; blog posts or news reports that mention you in an unflattering or libelous manner; an embarrassing photo; even your home address or phone number; ... all of these are examples things you'd probably wish you could remove from Google.

It's not easy to remove information from Google (or any other search engine). Google's business is indexing Internet content so that people can search it. Since Google does not control what is published on the Web, you have to start with the person who did publish what you want removed.

If you published something you regret, delete it. If the offending info is on someone else's site, ask the publisher or site administrator to delete it. Then, when Google's Web-crawler indexes the site again, it will delete Google's cached copy of the now-missing content, and it will no longer appear in search results. But that may take a while, depending on how often Google indexes that particular website. To speed up the process, you can file a removal outdated content request with Google. But first, you must be sure that the content you want removed from Google search results has been removed from the Web.

Rremove Google Listing

If you can't get the content owner to remove the offending content, there are some special cases in which Google will intervene. On the Remove your personal information from Google help page, Google lists things such as "unwanted & explicit personal images," "financial, medical and national ID information," and cases where “doxxing” (exposing information with an intent to harm) is involved. Google won't help you remove the offending information from the page where it exists, but they will expunge it from their search engine database so it is not easily found.

More Removal Tools

Google has another tool for requesting removal of content from sites it owns, including Google Search, YouTube, Android Marketplace, Google Maps, and others. Requests for removal through this tool must rely on legal issues, i.e., violation of copyright, privacy, or child p**nography laws.

My article Can You Remove Yourself From The Internet? discusses your options for removing personal data from social media, online phone directories and other places.

The best way to keep unflattering information about yourself out of Google is to keep it off the public Internet. That means tightening up the privacy controls of all your online hangouts: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc., etc. Also, watch what you say in web forums, which are also indexed by Google unless the administrator has added a "do not index" tag to his forum. Be careful what you post on your own website, Facebook page, or blog.

Dealing with other people who control content you don't want in Google requires diplomacy, lawyers, or both. It's always best to start with a polite approach: "Hi, sorry to bother you but I have a problem with this content... would you please delete it?" You'd be surprised by how cooperative neutral strangers can be.

You can use Google Alerts to monitor what's being said about you or your business online. There are also very expensive services like Reputation Defender that will fight on your behalf to remove offensive or incorrect content.

Of course, if it's someone who has a grudge against you, you may need to decide whether getting the offending content removed is worth the cost of these services, or even legal fees. But there's always the bluff. Sometimes sending a threatening letter spiced with a bit of legalese will do the trick.

Do you have any good tricks for getting personal info removed from Google or the Web? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "So You Just Googled Youself..."

Posted by:

David Warin Solomons
14 Feb 2020

I like to try to keep up to date with recent concerts involving my musical compositions. I include in the parameters my name (in quotes) the word concert and the year, and then I exclude various unneeded terms such as -sheetmusic
-musicaneo -youtube etc in order to avoid material that I have uploaded myself etc (i.e. my own publications). However, Google still comes up with many results that don't lead to recent concerts. Suggestions welcome.

Posted by:

14 Feb 2020

See if including 'concerts' and the 'year' inside the quotes helps any (i.e. "David Warin Solomans 2019 concerts").
Leaving them out of the quotes will cause Google to search for your name (and related), then concerts (and related), and then the year (and related).

Posted by:

14 Feb 2020

Who is Youself and why would I google this?

Posted by:

14 Feb 2020

David you could try some tricks for being a little more specific in the search. I have heard that Google has a hard coded limit of 10 words in a search so try not to go over that limit. Try something like name in quotes, concert in quotes, the terms to leave out and then add a date after range. The date after is used in this format - after:YYYY-MM-DD.
So something like this "David Warin Solomons" "concert" -sheetmusic -musicaneo -youtube after:2019-11-01
Having the 2 seperate quotes, I belive means that you want the words included but not nessesarily all together as a continous string, the way the suggestion from Sirpaul2 would yield. I hope it helps.

Posted by:

Emily Booth
15 Feb 2020

It's not easy to remove oneself from Google searches specifically name & address databases.

I started one by one. I contacted the state's attorneys and BBBs for a couple of databases who ignored my request. It was very time consuming, perplexing and bewildering. Every database has different procedures. Surprisingly, many are foreign owned. I deleted myself from one only to find it disappeared & reappeared under a slightly different format and name.

In the end, I decided to pay to use a service to do this for me on a regular ongoing basis.

I use pseudonyms when posting comments and reviews.

Posted by:

David Solomons
17 Mar 2020

Many thanks Tony and Sirpaul2 :-)

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