Google has become part of everyone’s life – but its growth has led to some disturbing privacy issues. From stalkers tracking their victims to companies carrying out research on possible employees, the information contained in Google search results can be very damaging.
Because of this, the search giant has introduced a number of ways to remove data from the Google database. This blog will help out anyone who is wondering ‘how can I remove my name from Google’ – with clear advice about getting rid of all evidence from search results.
Why would I want to remove my name from Google search results?
There are plenty of reasons to remove information about yourself from Google results. For one thing, people sometimes post outright misinformation onto the web, and people need to delete it to avoid misunderstandings.
In other cases, people don’t like their personal information floating around the web. Our postal addresses, mobile numbers, emails, and other key snippets of data can easily end up in public searches. This can be a big help for criminals who want to assume our identities.
In other cases, you may want to reduce the awareness of your personal history. We all do things we regret, and it’s unfair to carry around the stigma attached to these mistakes for the rest of your life. By learning how to remove personal information from internet sources, you can wipe the slate clean and move on.
Finally, as we noted earlier, some companies like to carry out in-depth vetting of applicants. So if you’ve expressed controversial opinions in the past, you may want to remove them from search results.
And there are probably many other personal reasons to remove my name from Google. Whatever the motivation, you can take control of the way your personal data is handled. Let’s find out how.
How to remove personal information from Google results
When we talk about removing personal data from Google, there are a couple of considerations to think about. Firstly, you may want to remove actual websites (or URLs). Secondly, you’ll probably want to erase the information that Google holds about your search history. These are two separate challenges, but it makes sense to deal with them both.
1. Remove outdated URLs from the internet
Let’s say you know a site which holds information about your life, and you’d like to make it inaccessible to Google users. In many cases, you can actually apply to the search giant, and the site can be removed as “outdated.”
This doesn’t apply to currently operative sites – but does apply to a huge volume of URLs that appear in Google searches. Here’s how to do it:
- Use Google’s search engine to find the URL (website address) of the site you think is outdated or inaccurate.
- Use this URL removal tool to report the site address as outdated
- Google will then assess the request. If the site is cached and not part of the currently visible web, it will be removed from future search results.
However, this won’t solve many peoples’ problems. If you want to know how to remove personal information from Google searches entirely, you’ll have to use another tool.
2. Make a legal removal request to delete personal data
Google doesn’t want every user to apply to remove URLs containing personal data. And there are public interest reasons not to allow every request to be applied. But in recent years, the search company has expanded the “right to be forgotten.”
Here’s how to start the removal process:
- Work out a list of URLs that you’d like to remove.
- Head to the “Removing Content from Google” tool which can be found here.
- Choose “Web search” from the menu.
- Choose “I would like to remove personal information from Google search results.”
- Now, you’ll have a range of choices. The most comprehensive course of action is to choose to “delist information” according to European Union GDPR regulations.
- Now, press the “continue here” link at the bottom of the page.
- Complete the (extensive) legal form for making a “right to be forgotten” request. This will take some time, but it’s necessary to ensure that Google removes every site from its index.
- Remember to check the “I’m not a robot” box, and press “Submit.” Your request will be processed and Google should provide swift feedback about the extent of deletions.
This process should ensure a thorough removal of personal information. However, some issues can arise if users go under multiple names. If this is the case, you may need to submit two requests via the same process.
And in some instances, full removal is not accepted. In these cases, users will need to apply to their local data protection bodies to force Google to comply. But in general, if you want to know how to remove personal information from Google, this is the place to start.
3. How to remove personal information that Google holds about you
The other side to the coin of protecting personal data is requesting the data held by Google about your identity. And if you’re serious about knowing how to remove personal information from Internet sources, this is absolutely essential. Here’s how to do it:
- The place to head is called MyActivity – Google’s personal data hub.
- On the left-hand side, choose the “Delete activity by” option.
- Choose “delete by date” and then “all time.”
- Now choose “delete by all products” and press the “delete” button.
This simple process will erase a vast amount of data regarding your web search habits and identity. Google routinely collects this data from every single user, often without our knowledge or explicit consent. But you can easily erase it (and everyone should probably do so on a regular basis).
Adopt stronger security practices in the future to avoid personal data issues
As we’ve seen, deleting personal information from Google is possible, if time-consuming. But if you have any concerns about people abusing your history and data, it’s important that you know how to do so.
However, remember that Google isn’t the internet. When you remove data from Google results, the web pages may well remain online and accessible. So for 100% assurance, you’ll need to request that the website owners take down offending pages.
And for even more assurance, it makes sense to adopt stronger security behavior in the future. Avoid offering personal information on social media or comment boards, use VPNs to encrypt the data you send, and make a point of deleting the data held about you by tech giants. That way, you can enjoy the web, but remain free from concerns about your personal data.