There’s a good reason people are opting to remove personal information from Google: A simple Google search can potentially provide someone more information about you than you’d like. A stalker, an employer, 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. In some cases, confidential information like your credit card details, medical history, and signature are also available. At best, this can be embarrassing. At worst, it raises concerns about online security, including identity theft, doxxing, and spoofing.
It can be tempting to try to disappear completely from the Internet. But that takes a lot of legwork, especially when it comes to data brokers, and there is still likely to be a trace of you online. And while Google collects a lot of information about you—yes, even if you do an anonymous search without tracking, use Google Incognito mode, delete your Google activity, and say no to cookies—it doesn’t include that data in its search results. So if you’re concerned about the personal info that’s appearing in a Google search, you’re better off taking it up with the source: Google.
The search giant is making a show of its efforts to protect our privacy these days. Google announced in April that it has updated its policies to allow people to request the removal of their sensitive and personally identifiable information from search results. This adds to existing policies allowing people to request the removal of highly personal information that could cause them direct harm. So read on to find out the easiest way to remove personal information from Google. Then keep improving your digital security by learning how to tell if your computer has been hacked.
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.”
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 “File” and “New Incognito Window.” 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.
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 companies get about you isn’t gathered from a Google search. This information is typically collected from your social media usage or your online shopping habits, and other data-gathering techniques.
Once the information is in hand, 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 prevent future employers, potential stalkers, and nosy people from easily finding your personal information.
OK, so you’ve made an informed decision to remove personal information from Google. Let’s dive in.
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 The Converted Click. “If a website removes your credentials, Google will re-crawl, and your information will no longer appear in search results.”
Don’t forget to delete or change old accounts that you haven’t used in years, like on MySpace or Reddit. Googling yourself should turn up any old accounts you may not remember.
Want to keep your accounts? Set your Facebook, Instagram, and other social media accounts to “private,” which prevents Google from showing your pictures in search results too, notes Nilsson. Note, however, that it can take weeks for deleted content to stop showing in search results. For anything that still remains, you can petition Google.
Here’s how to remove personal information from Google via the search engine’s request form:
Google will send you an email right after your submission to acknowledge it has received your request. The company may contact you if your request does not provide enough details, such as the URLs of the offending content. You will then get a notification of any action taken, such as whether the URLs will be removed from all searches or just those containing your name or other provided identifiers.
If the case does not meet the requirements for removal, you’ll receive a brief explanation as to why and be given a chance to supply additional materials to support your case and resubmit your claim. Unfortunately, Google has not specified how long it is likely to take for decisions to be made.
Not exactly. Google only has power over what appears in its search results—not what appears on the Internet as a whole. Plus, there’s no ensure that the search engine will agree to remove the results containing your information, or that it will remove your info from all searches instead of just those containing your name and aliases.
Google has also stated that when it receives removal requests, it will evaluate all content on the webpage to ensure that it’s not limiting the availability of other information that is broadly useful, like information in news articles. It also won’t remove results when the content appears as part of the public record on government or official websites.
And finally, just because something is removed from a Google search does not mean it’s been removed from the Internet. The information could still be found via a different search engine or if direct links to the content are posted on social media, for example. You would need to contact the owner of the website directly if you want your information removed from the page. 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.
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—you can at least force whatever you don’t like to show up farther down in the results, 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 the idea of wiping yourself from Google, but at least it will make a search present you in a better light. Going forward, be sure to avoid any social media posts that might get you fired or otherwise tarnish your newly positive Google search results.
Besides removing your personal information from Google searches, there are other steps you can take to delete more of your digital footprint. Let’s take a quick look.
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—including their address, court history, phone number, and family members’ names—for a fee.
Getting your data removed from these sites is totally doable, but it can be a hassle, as each one has a different process. You’ll need to follow the instructions on each individual site, or you can use services like DeleteMe, which will do the work for you, for a fee.
Keep in mind: There’s a chance your info could end up on these sites again in the future. One way to limit the amount of data you inadvertently share is to use good passwords and two-factor authentication, and possibly a password manager that’ll help you keep track of them without relying on common password lists. Another tip from cybersecurity experts: Turn off location tracking on your iPhone and in any apps you use to prevent them from collecting and selling your data.
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 and ask them to manually remove the comment. 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.”
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.
Go to Google Maps, search for 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 the box and choose “Report a Problem.” Fill out the form that comes up on-screen and submit it when you’re done. One important note: Google can’t undo this change.
Good digital hygiene goes beyond—and may be more important than—Google search results. So as you take stock of the personal information available on Google, consider how you might address security issues that put you at risk for cybersecurity threats such as phishing attacks, spyware, and identity theft.
By investing in security apps and RFID-blocking wallets and learning tricks from the experts—like how to remove spyware from an iPhone and avoid public Wi-Fi dangers—you can thwart would-be hackers and thieves.
Additional reporting by Alina Bradford.
When people worry about their data privacy, they usually focus on the Big Five tech companies: Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft. Legislators have brought Facebook’s CEO to the capitol to testify about the ways the company uses personal data. The FTC has sued Google for violating laws meant to protect children’s privacy. Each of the tech companies is followed by a bevy of reporters eager to investigate how it uses technology to surveil us. But when Congress got close to passing data privacy legislation, it wasn’t the Big Five that led the most urgent effort to prevent the law from passing, it was a company called RELX.
You might not be familiar with RELX, but it knows all about you. Reed Elsevier LexisNexis (RELX) is a Frankensteinian amalgam of publishers and data brokers, stitched together into a single information giant. There is one other company that compares to RELX—Thomson Reuters, which is also an amalgamation of hundreds of smaller publishers and data services. Together, the two companies have amassed thousands of academic publications and business profiles, millions of data dossiers containing our personal information, and the entire corpus of US law. These companies are a culmination of the kind of information market consolidation that’s happening across media industries, from music and newspapers to book publishing. However, RELX and Thomson Reuters are uniquely creepy as media companies that don’t just publish content but also sell our personal data.
Despite being a billion-dollar data and information business—just one of RELX’s brands, alone, has profit margins that rival Apple, Google, and Amazon’s—RELX doesn’t get the same level of public scrutiny that those other companies do. It’s likely easier for most of us to ignore RELX and its industry counterparts than it is to ignore the social media and online shopping platforms that we use every day. We visit the Big Five companies’ platforms whenever we want to read the news, catch up with friends, shop, or look something up. Most of us don’t have such an intimate user relationship with RELX, even if we do legal research on Lexis, read Elsevier journals, or use LexisNexis personal data services at work. Even if you don’t feel like you have close, personal ties to RELX, one of the company’s dossiers probably has your name on it—and that information may be used to make decisions about your everyday life.
On one end of the informational spectrum, companies like RELX exploit a lack of data privacy laws to make millions of dollars building data products to sell to cops, your employer, your landlords, your insurance companies, and all sorts of other institutions and overlords. These companies and institutions use RELX’s “risk” products to make decisions about whether you should get hired for a job, have custody of your children, have access to certain types of medication, and even whether you will be detained or arrested. RELX’s LexisNexis products have helped the government spy on protesters’ social media accounts and surveil immigrants. Police have abused LexisNexis systems to spy on exes and even to blackmail women using the personal information the company’s policing products provide. Using RELX products for data surveillance is problematic because the company funnels a deluge of unfiltered, unvetted data through biased data-processing algorithms. The combination of bad data and bad algorithms leads to government systems that bake historically racist, xenophobic policing practices and outcomes into a Minority Report-like digital policing dystopia.
The companies’ error-riddled data has prevented people from accessing their own bank accounts and getting insurance, and from being able to rent homes. The mistakes in RELX’s data make it all the more worrisome. RELX is growing its list of data analytics products, and is even developing technology that makes predictions about your health based on your private medical records, assessing your health risks for insurers and your doctors. Imagine what could happen to your health care access if you were wrongly tagged as at risk for opioid abuse or as having a certain chronic illness.
The companies can “double-dip” with their data assets, selling raw data and also selling structured information made from that raw data. For instance, RELX’s Elsevier sells academic journal articles, and it also creates research “metrics” products with data gathered by tracking the activities and associations of its authors, and also by surveilling who is accessing articles and what they’re doing with them. These metrics products predict which researchers, and which research projects, will have the most “impact.” Such rankings help grant funders divvy out money and institutions decide which hires will make them appear the most prestigious. Academic metrics take scientific decisions out of the hands of scientists whose expertise should lead scientific decisionmaking. They also turn universities and grant funders into rich data sources for the analytics companies.
(KTLA) — A quick online search can reveal personal details on just about anyone.
“It’s just so much easier to find on the internet, and it is a huge invasion of privacy,” said Hayley Kaplan, a cyber security expert.
Now, a new tool from Google seeks to help.
It’s called Results About You, and it makes it easy to request the removal of search results that contain your phone number, home address or email.
“We’re giving you even more control over your online presence. Let’s say you come across a result that contains your personal contact information that you don’t want public. With this tool, right from the Google app, you can easily request the removal of search results that contain your phone number, home address or email address, said Prabhakar Raghavan, senior vice president of Search at Google at the company’s latest Search On 22 livestream.
Keep in mind, it’s not a complete solution.
“Even though removing these results doesn’t scrub your contact information from the web overall, we’re doing everything to safeguard your information on Google search,” said Raghavan.
To use it, search for yourself on Google and locate a result containing personal information.
Next, hit the three dots next to the result. Then look for the button labeled “Remove result” and tap it.
Google will ask you some questions about why you’d like the result removed. Once you answer them, you’ll have to wait a few days for a response from Google about whether they can remove the result.
You can also watch this Reel on Instagram that explains the step-by-step process.
“It’s an exceptional first step by Google,” said Kaplan, who helps people reclaim their privacy online. “It’s critical that you care. That information can be used against you in so many different situations.”
Kaplan said personal information on the web can be used for identity theft and ageism, then there’s the personal safety aspect and protecting yourself against people with malicious intent.
She said Google’s tool is helpful, but it’s just a start.
“It’s always best to remove it from the source if you can,” said Kaplan, who provides takedown information on her website.
A service called Delete Me has DIY opt-out guides for popular sites including Spokeo, Whitepages and MyLife.
Discover has a free feature for customers in their mobile app called Online Privacy Protection. They’ll scan for your personal info and submit opt-out requests on your behalf every three months.
“I do think you want to be very careful every time you provide out personal information. You need to understand that there’s a consequence,” concluded Kaplan.
Keep in mind that Google’s tool is still rolling out, so not everyone will have access to it right away. Next year, Google will let you sign up for alerts that tell you when new results containing your personal info hit the web.
In context: Remote apps for cars are a great convenience. I love remotely starting my Subaru Legacy to allow it to warm up for a bit now that the weather is getting chilly. However, these features are not without some risk. Some are calculated. For example, you can limit the chances of car theft by not unlocking or starting the car unless you have a direct line of sight. Other threats are out of your hands, like the security of the remote app.
Those convenient remote car apps that allow you to start, unlock, honk, and even locate your car from your phone might not be as secure as you thought. Hackers figured out a way to do all those things without needing your login credentials.
The trick worked for several makes, including Acura, Honda, Infiniti, and Nissan vehicles. It might also work on BMW, Hyundai, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Subaru, and Toyota since they all use the same telematic provider. The list of cars was so broad because it seems that SiriusXM is the company handling remote services for all of these manufacturers.
The hackers were unaware that SiriusXM was even in this line of business, as it is better known for its satellite radio functionality. However, if you own any of those makes, you are probably already aware that SiriusXM is behind your car's remote services since you have to create an account to use them.
Self-proclaimed hacker, bug bounty hunter, and Staff Security Engineer for Yuga Labs Sam Curry explained in a Twitter thread that all he and his team needed to access any driver profile was the car's vehicle identification number (VIN). This code is unique to all cars. However, it is easily accessed with a stroll through any parking lot since it is visible through the windshield on the dash of most vehicles.
It took the researchers a while to back-engineer the apps, but since SiriusXM put all its eggs in one basket, they needed only one for a proof-of-concept — NissanConnect. They contacted someone who owned a Nissan and borrowed their credentials to dig further into the authentication process.
The apps work by communicating with a domain owned by SiriusXM, not with the car manufacturer, as one would intuitively think. Through trial and error, Curry found that the only parameter that the NissanConnect app and the hosted authentication server cared about was "customerId." Changing other fields, like "vin," had no effect.
During its snooping, the team discovered that the customerId field had a "nissancust" prefix and a "Cv-Tsp" header that specified "NISSAN_17MY" for the test vehicle. If they changed either of these variables, requests failed. So they put that endpoint on the back burner and concentrated on others.
Several hours later, the researchers encountered an HTTP response that had a "vin format [that] looked eerily similar to the "nissancust" prefix from the earlier HTTP request." So they tried sending the VIN-prefixed ID as the customerId. Surprisingly, it returned a bearer token, which was something of a eureka moment. They tried using the bearer token to send a fetch request for the user profile, and it worked!
The researchers accessed various customer information via HTTP, including the victim's name, phone number, address, and car details. Using this as a framework, they created a python script to access the customer details of any VIN entered. More poking and prodding led Curry to find that he could not only view account information but also use the access to send command requests to the car.
"We could execute commands on vehicles and fetch user information from the accounts by only knowing the victim's VIN number, something that was on the windshield," Curry tweeted. "We were able to remotely unlock, start, locate, flash, and honk any remotely connected Honda, Nissan, Infiniti, and Acura vehicles, completely unauthorized, knowing only the VIN number [sic] of the car."
Furthermore, the API calls for telematic services worked even if the user no longer had an active SiriusXM subscription. Curry also noted that he could enroll or unenroll vehicle owners from the service at will.
Don't panic if you have one of these makes and use its remote functionality. Yuga Labs contacted SiriusXM about the gaping security hole, and it immediately issued a patch before the researchers announced the vulnerability earlier this week.
CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office is looking for information on a decade-old murder.
Deputies say 49-year-old Nathaniel Gordon was playing cards on Nov. 9, 2012, at a home on Old Jacksonboro Road in Adams Run when someone knocked on the door.
Deputies say one of the other card players opened the door and immediately shut it when they saw someone on the other side with a gun.
At some point, a shotgun went off and Gordon was killed.
Deputies say it’s not clear if the gun was fired by someone inside the home or the person outside the door.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Det. Barry Goldstein at 843-554-2241 or Crimestoppers of the Lowcountry at 843-554-1111.
Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.
Are you withholding information from your colleagues that could help them do their job better? If you are, you might be guilty of "quiet constraining."
Connor Campbell, a business-finance expert at NerdWallet, said failure to reveal more efficient ways to execute tasks has the potential to hinder growth and cause conflict in the workplace.
The phrase has been coined after Insider led the way on "quiet quitting" with an article in March about "coasting culture," or setting stronger work-life boundaries while still collecting a paycheck.
Kahoot! recently surveyed 1,635 employees in the United States and found that 58% of respondents admitted to holding onto information that could benefit their coworkers.
Just over three quarters of Gen Z workers, which Pew Research defines as those born after 1997, are the most likely to be guilty of "quiet constraining," the survey found.
Moreover, 95% of the respondents said they feel bored at work, compared to 87% of workers overall, primarily due to online employee training and virtual team meetings.
Campbell said there are ways businesses can help crack down on "quiet constraining."
He said it's important to introduce new employees to their colleagues. They should be told about new recruits and "given a run-down of their strengths and what they'll be bringing to the team. This makes the new member of staff less of a rival, and more of a team member," Campbell added.
He also suggested setting up one-on-one meetings or calls to help employees to get to know their colleagues better.
Starting the day with a group meeting can help set the tone for the rest of the day, along with setting expectations and tasks for the entire team.
"Business owners should remember that if they want to foster an information-sharing culture, this also applies to them," Campbell said.
Allow each staff member to have the opportunity to speak about any information they have gathered that they think would be useful to the team, and be sure to praise employees that share for doing so.
Managers can set up physical or online noticeboards to post important information.
Managers can share details posted in meetings, giving a boost to employees who that shared that information, Campbell said.
The secret to a successful team-building activity is identifying the reasons for communication breakdowns and selecting appropriate activities to target the problems, Campbell said.
"Forcing people to exercise against their will, for example, may actually do more harm than good, as employees will then associate the team with this negative experience."
"Understated ways that business owners can curb selfish thinking in the workplace is by introducing more group work rather than individual projects," Campbell said.
Group projects can also help to fully utilize all employees' strengths and specialties, leading to more respect among colleagues and generally helping staff feel more valued in the workplace.
Nov. 15—Without any new information or leads, Portland police are at a crossroads as they determine what to do next in the search for a 21-year-old Portland man who was reported missing this month.
Following the disappearance of 21-year-old Samuel Mugisha on Nov. 4, police have spent hours combing the 30 acres of woods behind Mugisha's North Deering apartment, as well as a park, railroad tracks and a river close to Mugisha's home.
Police had at least 20 officers looking for Mugisha at one time, a department spokesman said. With the help of other departments and the Maine Warden Service, police have used boats, all-terrain vehicles and a drone from the Brunswick Police Department to aid their efforts. But what they need most now is a new lead, otherwise, they're unsure of where to expand their search efforts.
"We're kind of taking everything into account," Portland police Maj. Robert Martin said Monday.
Mugisha's relatives said they were hoping to meet with police Tuesday to go over the case, but all on-duty officers were called to Portland High School for a hoax shooting report.
Police don't know why Mugisha left — if he intended to hitch a ride with someone and go out of state, if he was in an agitated state and was seeking comfort elsewhere, or if he just wanted to disappear. They don't know if he intended to harm himself.
None of the credit cards attached to Mugisha's name have been used not even to withdraw cash before he went missing, Martin said. Police aren't sure if Mugisha had a phone or trackable device on him at the time he left, and whether police might be able to retrieve data from those devices that will show a clearer picture of where he could be now.
Martin said police initially believed he left his cellphone behind. But after talking with family, officers learned it's possible Mugisha was wearing an Apple watch that connected to his phone, or that he could've had a second phone or another device.
Police and Mugisha's family members were hopeful over the weekend after receiving a tip that someone saw the young man hitchhiking near Rockport — however, after reviewing a high-quality image, Mugisha's relatives determined it was not him.
Claude Rwaganje, Mugisha's uncle, said Monday that the family is hoping the police can access his medical records from a psychiatric hospital he stayed at days before his disappearance. Martin said Monday that medical records are more difficult to access due to federal privacy laws, without a patient's consent.
Mugisha's family told the Portland Press Herald last week that he struggles with a mental illness that sometimes renders him non-verbal, and causes him to forget where he is and faint. His family believes his disappearance might be connected to his illness.
The big picture: Selecting a career path is arguably the biggest decision a young person will face up to that point in their life, and most don't get it right out of the gate. Among those that choose college, roughly four out of five end up changing their major at least once according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Even students that stick with it and cross the finish line can regret their choice in hindsight.
According to a latest ZipRecruiter survey of more than 1,500 college graduates looking for a job, nearly half – 44 percent – said they regret their college major choice.
Journalism was the most regretted college major. Sociology and liberal arts / general studies tied for second place followed by degrees in communications and education. Political science, biology and English language / literature also made the top 10 list.
Not everyone hated their major selection. Among those surveyed, the happiest graduates were those with degrees in computer and information sciences, criminology, engineering and nursing. Most with degrees in business administration / management, finance, psychology and human resources said they'd choose the same major if they had it to do over again.
It should come as little surprise that there's a correlation between feelings about degrees and current job prospects as well as pay. Computer science graduates, for example, are in high demand across multiple industries with an annual average salary north of $100,000.
ZipRecruiter found that among communications graduates, those who are happy with their field are earning 1.6 times more than those who would select a different degree. Similarly, satisfied grads with marketing management / research degrees are earning three times more than those with regrets.
Of course, college isn't for everyone. Plenty of people head right into the workforce straight out of high school, and many become very successful. Taking this route eliminates the possibility of being saddled with student loan debt and affords a head start on peers that are still studying.
Image credit: Ekrulila
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Baton Rouge Police Department is searching for answers in an unsolved deadly hit-and-run crash.
On July 31, 2022, around 4:15 a.m., BRPD officers responded to a major traffic accident in the 6900 block of Airline Highway, near Prescott Road.
Once on the scene, officers found the victim, later identified as Javon Serf, 30.
Investigators believe Serf was hit while riding a large, purple bicycle on Airline Highway.
His family, along with investigators, are searching for answers. They are asking for anyone with information to come forward and say something.
If you have any information on this incident, contact Crime Stoppers at 344-STOP (344-7867) or visit crimestoppersbr.com.
You will remain completely anonymous and could be eligible for a cash reward.
Click here to report a typo.
Copyright 2022 WAFB. All rights reserved.
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Officials are searching for more information about a shooting in the Montara neighborhood after multiple homes were hit by gunfire.
The Shawnee Co. Sheriff’s Office says that on Tuesday evening, Nov. 29, a vehicle drove through the Montara neighborhood in southwest Shawnee Co. and fired multiple rounds.
Just before 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, officials said the Shawnee Co. Emergency Communications Center received multiple phone calls with reports of gunshots coming from a vehicle in the Montara neighborhood.l
When officials arrived, they said they found four homes and one vehicle on SW Greenview Dr. and SW Clearview Ln. that had been hit by the bullets. Thankfully, no injuries were reported.
The Sheriff’s Office has asked anyone with information or video surveillance footage of the incident to report immediately it to Detective Stephanie Dicken at 785-251-2224 or the Sheriff’s Office at 785-251-2000.
Copyright 2022 WIBW. All rights reserved.