It’s never a great feeling when you discover your home address, phone number, or private email address somewhere on a public site. It’s especially bad when that information is public and you never find out. Google already indexes countless webpages every single day, and now the company is rolling out new privacy tools that will let you know if a site is found with your information.
Google announced in a bog post, “Last year, we launched the Results about you tool to make it easy for you to request the removal of search results that contain your personal phone number, home address or email, right from the Google app or however you access Search. Now, we’ve significantly updated and improved the tool, helping you keep track of your personal contact information in Search and alerting you when we find it, so you can get it removed.”
The updated “Results about you” tool will let you know if web results containing your contact information are showing up on Google Search, using an unspecified notification system (presumably an email). You can then quickly request the removal of those results from Google. It would be great if Google provided a 24 or 48-hour window where results with private information wouldn’t appear at all, giving people time to request the removal, but that doesn’t seem to be an option right now.
It’s important to note that the privacy tool only helps you remove your private information from Google Search results. The website where the results originated would presumably still have your personal information in a public page, and that same page might still be indexed on Bing, DuckDuckGo, and other search engines. You’ll have to request the original site remove your information. Still, being alerted by Google that the information is out there is better than nothing — it’s somewhat similar to the popular “have i been pwned” service, but for search results instead of data breaches.
The updated privacy tool will be accessible by visiting goo.gle/resultsaboutyou when it’s fully rolled out, or by clicking your Google account picture and selecting “Results about you.”