Google is introducing a set of significant updates to its search engine, aimed at improving users’ control over their personal information. These updates provide new ways to find, review, and remove personal information such as phone numbers, home addresses, or emails from Google Search. Along with these privacy measures, there are also updates related to SafeSearch and explicit imagery. The following is a detailed look at these new features.
Improved Personal Information Control
Finding and Removing Personal Information
Dashboard Access: Google has launched an update to its “Results about you” dashboard available on both mobile and the web, allowing users to quickly find their personal information on Google Search and request its removal.
- Notifications: Users will receive notifications when Google finds their address, phone number, or email on the web, enabling them to review and request removal.
- Automatic Search: Rather than manually searching for personal information, the dashboard will automatically find websites containing any matching details, letting users review and remove them.
- Tracking: Users can track their requests for removal, including in-progress, approved, denied, and undone requests.
- Limitations: It’s vital to note that removal from Google Search doesn’t erase the information from the web entirely, and certain types of search results from governments or educational institutions cannot be removed.
- Rollout: The feature is initially available in the US in English, with plans to extend it to other countries and languages soon. More details can be found here.
Protection Against Doxxing
This update marks a significant improvement, especially for victims of doxxing. The streamlined process ensures that personal information is located and removed more rapidly.
Removal of Explicit Images
Consensual and Non-consensual Imagery: Google is expanding its policy to allow the removal of consensual explicit images if they have been published elsewhere without permission.
Explicit Content Reporting: Removing content from Google Search won’t erase it from the web, but may make it more challenging to find. Users can initiate the removal process by searching for “request removals” in the Google help center.
Enhancements to SafeSearch and Parental Controls
The blurring of Explicit Imagery
Default Blurring: Starting this month, Google will blur explicit imagery (defined as adult or graphic violent content) in search results by default. Users have the option to turn off SafeSearch blurring from their settings unless restricted by a network admin or guardian.
Parental Controls Accessibility
Ease of Access: Google is making it easier to access parental controls from Search. Queries like “Google parental controls” or “Google family link” will now bring up an information box explaining how to adjust settings.
Google’s latest updates show a concerted effort to enhance users’ control over their personal information on the web and strengthen safety measures related to explicit content. The company continues to build on previous tools and policies, emphasizing the importance of user privacy and protection in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. While these features are indeed a welcome step, users must remain vigilant, as removing information from Google Search does not necessarily erase it from the internet. Understanding the new tools and their limitations is crucial in managing personal information online effectively.