Back in May this year, Google, at their annual I/O developer’s conference, announced that they would be releasing a new tool to help users with the process of removing search results that showed their contact details and other Personal Identifiable Information or PII. Google has launched the service and made it live for its users.
Starting today, users can find a new Results About You menu in the Google app on Android, under the My Profile section. This takes users to a page that explains how they can request Google remove Search results that contain phone numbers, home addresses, emails, or other PII.
If users find something while browsing, they can click on the three-dot overflow menu in the top-right corner of each result. The existing ‘About this result’ panel opens with a new “Remove result” option at the bottom of the user’s screen.
After following that process, users can monitor the progress of removal requests. In addition to an “All requests” feed, users will also have filters like “In progress” and “Approved.” This page also lets you make a new request with a walkthrough that involves a “Why would you like to remove this result?” step.
Users will be able to select from a variety of options. This includes flagging information that shows personal contact info, personal contact info with an intent to harm, illegal news, or outdated and incorrect info.
An upcoming update to the feature will let users “opt into alerts if new results with your contact information appear so you can quickly request their removal.” These notifications are reportedly coming early next year. When available, users will receive news about new Google Search results containing their contact information so they can quickly act to request its removal if they choose.
Google says the “Results About You” tool will become accessible to all English language users in the US in the next few weeks. The device will be available to users in other countries by the end of the year.
This new tool arrived when there’s been much discussion about the threats associated with doing, which is a way to threaten or harass someone by revealing their personal information to the public without their permission.
This is often done to silence someone because of their beliefs or opinions and is considered a form of cyberbullying. But unlike traditional online trolling, where bad actors can be blocked and reported, doxing can invite real-world harm as people’s home addresses and contact information is exposed.