Google Trials New Feature To Delist Personal Information In Effort To Combat Doxing

google new feature delist personal information news
Among the many features and devices announced at the Google I/O event in May of this year was a new feature for the Google app giving users the option to request that their personal information be removed from Google search results. The company told users at the time of the announcement that the feature would be made available in the coming months, and now Google is beginning to deliver on that promise. The company is now introducing the feature as part of a limited beta test reaching a subset of Google app users. However, we expect that Google will continue to roll out the feature to a wider portion of its users going forward.

This new personal information removal feature builds on a tool Google introduced back in May for the same purpose. Google offers a number of settings for users to control what data the company collects, such as location information, but the scope of reasons for which Google would remove personal information from its search results was more limited until the company instituted a new removal request process earlier this year.

results about you feature in google app news
New results about you feature in the Google app (click to enlarge) (source: Google)

The new feature now making its way to the Google app builds information removal requests directly into the Google app. The company’s announcement of the feature also stated that users will be able to begin a removal request directly on the Google search results page by selecting the three dots next to a search result listing. These additions to the Google app and search results should make the information removal option more visible and accessible to users.

That said, information removal requests still have to go through an approval process that isn’t guaranteed to give users the outcomes they may want, even if their requests are legitimate. Early reports of users going through the new information removal process back in May weren’t reassuring, as users’ requests were frequently rejected. However, Google was likely flooded with requests when the process was first introduced to the public, so hopefully the number of requests has leveled off and the company has hired enough staff to manage the requests appropriately.

Google reminds users in its announcement that removing personal information from its search results does not remove this information from the web. For those looking to do so, the company recommends that users contact the owners of websites displaying their personal information, which is solid advice.

If the owner of a website has no available contact information or doesn’t respond to your removal requests, you may need contact the service hosting the website on its servers to reach someone willing to comply with your requests. Those looking to completely scrub their information from the web should also make sure to submit data removal requests to people search websites and web archive services like Internet Archive.