How to remove your personal data from Google search results

Yahoo Finance tech editor Dan Howley explains what steps to take to remove your personal data from Google search results.

Video transcript

BRIAN CHEUNG: --but want to turn our attention to some interesting tech questions. First of all, how do you scrub your personal information online? Well, apparently, it just got a little easier and Yahoo Finance's Dan Howley is here to explain exactly how to do that in our latest Tech Support installation.

DAN HOWLEY: That's right. So this is basically a means for you if you've been doxxed, D-O-X-X-E-D. I had to spell. And essentially what it is is the ability to take some of your stuff offline.

Now, it's not going to take anything off outside websites. This is specifically about Google's search. So if you have someone who has something online about you or perhaps some of your information leaked online somehow, your credit card information, your phone number, things like that, you would need to contact that website first, and then go to Google. But in the instance of Google, what you'll need to do is actually go to support.google.com. And then what you can do in that search box at the top of the screen is look for remove personally identifiable information.

Now, once you do that search, you're going to get a response box that explains what that will allow you to do. It'll basically say you can remove your personal information from Google here. Click that box and then you'll end up seeing this super long document saying, you know, essentially what I just said. You need to go to the other website that may be hosting your information, get in touch with them, that it's up to Google whether or not they will reply to your request to have information taken down.

If it's something that is newsworthy or worth being in public circles, say you are a politician and committed a crime, Google is not going to take that down. But chances are you're not a politician committing a crime. I hope not. So what you do is you go through to that dialog box and then you'll be able to click what you want removed whether that's your medical history, sometimes that leaks online, whether it's your physical address, your email address, your credit card information, things along those lines.

You go through, you select what you want taken down, and then you're going to have to have a little bit of evidence to back that up. So you'll need a screenshot of where it is online. You'll also need to provide information proving you are who you are and then you'll be able to submit it.

Google will then go ahead and review your submission and then take it down if it has to come down. If it's not and they judge that it's part of the public good for it to be up there, then they'll leave it. But that's an easy way to take down some of your private data. And I know this is an issue that a number of people may be dealing with, especially as we see more leaks about personal data online.

AKIKO FUJITA: So you're kind of taking it to a jury, right?

DAN HOWLEY: Yes.

AKIKO FUJITA: They determine that. I mean, why do that now, though? And I wonder if that speaks to just how much reputation goes straight off of Google. I mean, if you're looking for a job, chances are that person is going to Google your name right away and see what pops up.

DAN HOWLEY: Right, exactly. And so if you're looking for a job or if you've had any issues where you've seen your information leak online or it's been leaked online through a hack or something like that, this is a way to, kind of, take control of that back. And look, if you have documents, people may have scanned documents and uploaded it somewhere and then it leaked online, that's something else that you can take down. It's things that you don't necessarily want on the internet, easily searchable.

Now if you don't contact that website that's hosting it-- because chances are it's a website that's hosting it-- Google will still be able to take it out of their search. But you still need to contact that site.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Quickly, how long does that process take if you were trying to put this appeal in and--

DAN HOWLEY: It's up to Google, honestly. They're going to go through it, I would say, probably at least a month maybe or up to a month or something along those lines.

AKIKO FUJITA: But why now?

DAN HOWLEY: I think it really just comes down to the amount of hacks that have been happening for people. And we've gotten to the point where they're allowing people to go ahead and have this taken down. So I think that that's really the reason why if you're in that position, our lives obviously are much more online than they ever have been, especially with working from home, this is the way to take that back.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Yeah, good tips there. Yahoo Finance's Dan Howley, thanks so much.

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