Google rolls out privacy tools to make it easier to remove personal information and explicit images from searches

Google privacy protection shield

Google has announced the rollout of a series of new and updated privacy tools designed to give users greater control over the removal of information about themselves from search results. A new privacy dashboard will alert users if search results start to include their contact information.

As well as making it easier to request the removal of such personal data, Google is expanding its privacy protections to give people a way to remove personal, explicit images from search results. There are also expanded controls for limiting the appearance of other explicit images in searches.

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Not all of the privacy tools that Google is talking about are completely new. Last year's Results about you tool, for instance, has been updated to make it easier than ever to request the removal of search results that contain your personal phone number, home address or email address. A more significant update, however, means that alerts will be sent out about new instances of personal data in search results.

Relatedly, Google has also updated its policies on personal explicit images. In a nutshell, the company is simplifying the process of requesting the removal of explicit images of yourself, even if you were the one to originally upload the content.

Google explains:

We have long had policies that enable you to remove non-consensual explicit imagery from Search. Now, we’re building on these protections to enable people to remove from Search any of their personal, explicit images that they no longer wish to be visible in Search.

For example, if you created and uploaded explicit content to a website, then deleted it, you can request its removal from Search if it's being published elsewhere without approval. This policy doesn't apply to content you are currently commercializing. More broadly, whether it's for websites containing personal information, explicit imagery or any other removal requests, we've updated and simplified the forms you use to submit requests.

Google is also taking steps to protect users from inadvertently seeing explicit images in search results. By "explicit", Google means pornographic imagery, pictures depicting violence and more. The company is expanding its SafeSearch feature globally so that such images are blurred out in search results unless the option is manually disabled in settings.

More information is available here.

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