Starting “early next year,” Google will be able to notify you if your personal info, such as your phone number, email, or home address, shows up in search results as part of its “results about you” tool. The announcement comes as Google has officially started rolling out the tool, which lets people easily create takedown requests for results with their personal info. The tool started showing up for some people last week.
In a tweet, the company says the notification system will be opt-in. Ideally, it’s not something that most people will have to turn on; however, it will be nice to have the option, especially for those in high-profile positions or who find themselves targeted by harassment campaigns.
It is worth noting, though, that Google is only taking down search results, not the content on the web itself. The information will still be on whatever site is hosting it but will just be harder for people to find.
Google has been letting people request that this sort of search result get taken down for a while now (and has had that ability for results that were intentional harassment or threats even longer), but it’s working to make the process significantly easier to access. The results about you tool lets you flag results with your personal info with a few button taps instead of having to find Google’s specific help article with the link to the form.
It also gives you a place to track those requests. When notifications for it start rolling out next year, it’ll be even more powerful since you won’t have to manually seek out the potentially harmful results to report them.