There may be more information on your online self than you think. Though in some cases it can be harmless, it can also be used against you or people you know by malicious cybercriminals. Recent efforts by search engines allow you to disappear online in many cases.
Here are the best ways to remove your personal information from the internet, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Hide Your Search Results
One way to limit access to personal information is to hide Google search results. Google recently updated its search policies to let people request removal of home addresses and contact information. Previously, the company only allowed for takedown requests of sensitive content such as ID photos and credit-card number.
By filling out the multistep request form, you can remove a result from search. To do so, indicate what type of information you want removed and if it is being shared with doxing intent, the URL where it is located, and the search terms that brought up the URL.
Google will evaluate the request by determining if it is relevant to public interest. For example, information tied to news coverage or government sources may not be approved, while data found on people-search sites typically would, according to Google’s public liaison for search, Danny Sullivan.
Later this year, Google is expected to streamline the request process. The feature will be available in the coming months in the Google App and users will be able to make requests by going to the three dots next to individual Google Search results.
You can also target specific sites that make money by sharing people’s addresses, phone numbers, political affiliations and more. These are typically called “people-search engines.” White Pages, for example.
In order to remove yourself from them, you must manually submit an opt-out request for each one. The process differs from site to site but is generally the same. You should be able to search your name on the site to find any listings. Copy the URL to the listing and request that the company remove it though an online form, email request or phone call.
You can also set up a Google Alert to notify you when a new search result appears for your name in order to keep track of new listings.
It can be difficult to keep track of all traces of your name online. Services such as NortonLifeLock Inc.’s Privacy Monitor Assistant and DeleteMe can check for new listings on a regular basis for a fee.