How to Delete Yourself From Google Searches

Looking to regain a little privacy? Follow these steps to remove yourself from Google searches—or at least hide the more embarrassing stuff.

A simple Google search can potentially give someone more information about you than you might like. A stalker or a nosy coworker can often easily find information about where you live, if you’ve had a bankruptcy, your family’s names, and more. This can be embarrassing, at best—and dangerous, at worst. There are also issues related to identity theft to consider. Wondering if you should learn how to delete yourself from Google Search? It’s definitely a personal choice, and your specific situation should inform your decision. “Some people are fortunate to have common names, so when they do Google themselves, they may be buried in the search results,” says Andrew Selepak, a social media professor at the University of Florida. “But people with more unique names may appear in the first few Google search results.”

While you can’t completely disappear from the Internet, you can clear your name from many Google searches. It takes a lot of time, and maybe even some phone calls, but it is possible to do this and even to delete 99 per cent of your digital footprint. Here’s how to keep at least some things private—and off of Google.

Take stock

Before you go on a deleting spree, first take a look at what actually comes up when you Google yourself. To do this, open an incognito window by going to the Chrome browser menu and selecting New Incognito Window. (Here’s what you should know about private browser mode.) Then, type your name into the search box surrounded by quotes. For example, if your name is Joe Jones, you would search “Joe Jones.” Be sure to Google your first and last name, and then your first, middle, and last name. Take note of what pops up on the searches. These will be what you want to focus on removing, if they seem problematic.

Remove yourself from Google for the right reasons

If you’re trying to delete yourself from Google searches so that corporations won’t have your information, you’re going in the wrong direction. Most of the information that corporations get about you isn’t gathered from a Google search. This information is typically gathered from your social media usage or your shopping habits on websites and other data-gathering techniques. Once the information is gathered, it’s sold from company to company. So, even if you decide to wipe yourself from Google searches, there will likely still be plenty of information about you floating around. Removing yourself from Google search results will only help to prevent future employers, potential stalkers, and nosy people from finding you online.

How to delete yourself from Google Search: The first step

To remove yourself from searches, your first, and maybe most obvious step, is to delete your social media accounts, or at least change the information from your real name to a fake name. “Google can’t show information that doesn’t exist,” says Dave Nilsson, a digital marketing expert with ConvertedClick. “If a website removes your credentials, Google will recrawl and your information will no longer appear in search results.”

Make sure to delete or change even old accounts that you haven’t used in years, like on MySpace or Reddit. Your self-Google should have turned up any old accounts you may not remember. Want to keep your accounts? Setting your Instagram or other social media account to “private” disables Google from showing your pictures in search results, too, notes Nilsson.

Contact data-collection sites and data-broker services

While Googling yourself, you probably found sites that say things like, “We’ve found the phone number for Joe Jones,” or “Click here to get the arrest records of Joe Jones.” These sites are data-collection and data-broker sites. You can use them to access information about someone—like their address, phone number, and family members’ names—for a fee. Usually, getting your data removed from these sites can be a hassle, and each one has a different process for doing so. You’ll need to contact each individual site to get the ball rolling, or you can use services like DeleteMe that can do the work for you, for a fee.

Delete website comments

Believe it or not, simple comments on website articles can come up in a search, too. If you can’t log on to the site and delete the comment yourself, you’ll need to contact the owners of the site and ask them to manually remove the comment. You can typically find contact information on a site’s About Us or Contact pages. If that garners no helpful information, go to WhoIs.com to get the contact information. Remember, though, that website owners don’t have to delete comments, and probably won’t, but it’s worth a shot.

“The internet is still the Wild West with little government regulation, and it is very difficult to have anything taken down, even if it makes you look bad or is embarrassing,” Selepak says. “Your only recourse is the kindness of strangers, and sadly, we don’t live in a very kind time.”

Remove photos or articles about you

As with website comments, photos or articles posted about you can be hard to remove. You’ll have to contact the website owner to request the removal. You can also contact Google and request that the information be removed using their online service. If the image can be considered pornographic, you can report the image to have it taken down using the Report Inappropriate Content Tool, too.

Hide your home on Google Maps

A Google search of your address will bring up a photo of your home on Google Maps. If that makes you uncomfortable, you can get Google to blur out your house quite easily. Just go to Google Maps, search your address, and click on the photo of your home. The image will enlarge and you’ll see a black box appear with your address. Click on the menu inside of the box and choose Report a Problem. Fill out the form that comes up on screen, and submit when you’re done. One important note: This is permanent and can’t be undone.

Hide info you can’t remove

If you have an embarrassing mug shot or other issue that shows up on a Google search and you can’t seem to get rid of it even after contacting Google or the site owner, then you can at least get whatever you don’t like to show up on the second page of Google, according to tech expert Caleb Riutta of Dusk Digital. You do this by flooding Google with other pages that have your name. New social media accounts on different platforms and a new personal blog can all push the embarrassing information back in the search results. “When you update your information in as many places as you can online, Google will start showing this first, as it is up to date and relevant,” Riutta explains. Of course, this counteracts wiping yourself from Google, but at least it will make a search present you in a better light.

Next, find out how to delete everything on your iPhone.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest