The company said this week it will let people request that more types of content such as personal contact information like phone numbers, email and physical addresses be removed from search results.
The new policy also allows the removal of other information that may pose a risk for identity theft, such as confidential log-in credentials.
The company said in a statement that open access to information is vital, “but so is empowering people with the tools they need to protect themselves and keep their sensitive, personally identifiable information private.”
“Privacy and online safety go hand in hand. And when you’re using the internet, it’s important to have control over how your sensitive, personally identifiable information can be found," it said.
Google Search earlier had permitted people to request that highly personal content that could cause direct harm be removed. That includes information removed due to doxxing and personal details like bank account or credit card numbers that could be used for fraud.
But information increasing pops up in unexpected places and is used in new ways, so policies need to evolve, the company said.
Having personal contact information openly available online also can pose a threat and Google said it had received requests for the option to remove that content, too.
It said that when it receives such requests it will study all the content on the web page to avoid limiting availability of useful information or of content on the public record on government or other official websites.
“It’s important to remember that removing content from Google Search won’t remove it from the internet, which is why you may wish to contact the hosting site directly, if you’re comfortable doing so," it said.
How can I ask Google to remove my phone number and other personal info?
Removal requests can be submitted online at this link through Google. You will then be asked to provide links to the content from Google search results that you'd like removed.
Does submitting a removal request guarantee the content is taken off Google search?
No, Google said once it receives a removal request it will "evaluate all content on the web page to ensure that we're not limiting the availability of other information that is broadly useful, for instance in news articles."
Google noted it won't make removals if the content is part of the public record on government sites or official sources.
Will submitting a removal request get the info taken off the internet?
No, Google stressed in its blog post that even if they do remove your content from Google search results it'll still appear on the internet. If you want it removed from the internet entirely, Google encouraged users to contact the hosting site directly.