You’re here because you’re not happy with what you see when you Google your name, aren’t you? Or maybe you saw the title of this article and you’re trying to figure out why on earth anyone would bother trying to get their information erased from Google. If you belong to the first group, you’ve likely got a snide, knowing smirk on your face right now. Anyway, for the second group, let’s explain why one might want to erase their personal information from the search engine.
Why Would I Want to Erase My Personal Information from Google?
Let’s take a very simple reason into account – there’s something on the internet that you don’t want anyone to see and when someone searches your name in Google, that information turns up. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s an incriminating piece of information that’s laid bare for all to see on Google. It could just be simple personal information about you. The thing is, you’re entitled to your privacy and if you don’t want anyone to find something about you with the tap or click of a few keys and buttons, you should have that right. We’re all about democratization of privacy here.
Now, on the other hand, the internet could be a place where some embarrassing photos or facts about you live. If anyone were to search your name and material of that nature pops up, it could easily tarnish first impressions of you. Worse, this sort of thing could even turn into blackmail content. Also, unflattering personal information could be detrimental to your future job prospects – potential employers look you up online, on LinkedIn and Google, but also on social media platforms like Facebook. Keeping tabs about what pops up about you when you look yourself up on Google is vital. This goes beyond a simple web search. Using a search engine well is a skill, so if you know how to search correctly and what to look for, there’s a lot of personal and sensitive information to be found about anyone.
You’ve probably looked up your name on Google by now, right? Keep reading to find out how to remove your personal information from Google.
What Kind of Personal Information Is Available Online?
Search engines like Google show personal information linked to you that can be found on people finder or people search websites. These websites access publicly available records about individuals and organize them in their databases. Quite easily, you’re able to look someone up using their name and last name. In fact, using any information that you know about an individual can easily turn up publicly accessible records about them. This means that if you’ve got an individual’s email address or phone number, people search websites can turn up information about them linked to those details. Public records like marriage licenses, birth certificates, mugshots, court records, and so on are available. For you, this is probably too much information for just anyone to be able to retrieve about you from a simple web search.
Other personal information available about you online goes far deeper. Your browsing history, credit card details, Social Security number, financial records, online behavior, likes and dislikes, places you’ve been, and so on are tracked and logged by most of these big data sites that we’re engaging with on a daily basis. Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Google, and others all save information about you in order to sell to advertisers and other interested parties. While some are okay with this, many are not. These big data companies make obscene amounts of money selling information about you to interested parties.
The other concerning issue is that although they take security precautions to prevent leaks, their servers have faced data breaches many times. If this happens with the larger organizations who hold your personal information, it can happen more easily with smaller organizations who store your sensitive data. This data is highly valuable, and hackers who manage to break through security firewalls sell it for a lot of money over the dark web. Essentially, your information is not only available to Google, but could easily be available to shady data brokers on the dark web and other cybercriminals who commit crimes like identity fraud on a regular basis.
Delete Your Social Media Accounts or Turn Up Privacy Settings
The best thing to do would be to delete your social media accounts, as well as dating apps, entirely. The bulk of easily accessible personal information about an individual on search engines comes from these platforms. Most of these platforms set your account to public by default. If you can’t bring yourself to delete these accounts, get acquainted with the privacy settings and how the platform uses your data. Turn the privacy settings all the way up and opt out of advertising. Also, don’t allow your profile to turn up in search engine results on platforms that have this feature.
Remove All Unnecessary Apps from Your Devices
They might seem harmless, but most apps on your mobile phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop collect your personal information, including your spending habits and geographical location. Check out the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Notice before you go through with installation of an app. Ensure that you don’t allow these apps to access your microphone or contacts, for example, if it’s not necessary. It’s good practice to delete apps that you haven’t used in several months, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve deleted your personal information.
Remove Yourself from People Search Sites
Sometimes it’s difficult to do so, but having public records about yourself easily available to anyone is not ideal. Check out what’s available about you on people finder websites and request to opt out so that they remove your information from appearing in their results. This can be done with a click or two on some websites, but on others it can be a lot more difficult. You can always choose to use a service to remove your information from about 100 of these people search websites for you.