Is there something in your past that threatens to ruin your reputation - something to which Google insists on flagging up whenever someone Google's your name? Good news: a recent 'Right to be forgotten' EU court ruling means you can now ask Google to remove specific listings about you from its search results. Here's how to remove your name from Google search results and make Google forget you.
How to make Google forget you: Hidden, but not gone
It's worth pointing out that although Google is the largest search engine, it is not the only search engine. While it may agree to remove a specific URL that offends you from its own search results, the article may still be found through Bing, Yahoo and other search engines, and it will still exist on the web, accessible to anyone who knows the URL. Google simply makes it more difficult for people to stumble upon that information.
How to make Google forget you: Visible outside the US
Also note that the URL will be hidden by Google only within the EU. Someone searching from the US, for example, might still be taken to the offending article within search results.
How to make Google forget you: Contact Google
Requesting that a URL is removed from Google's search results is a very simple process. Simply fill in the Search removal request form and submit it along with some photo ID. You will also need to provide your name, an email address and any offending URLs that you want to be removed.
How to make Google forget you: What happens next?
Once it receives notification that you want to remove a URL from its search results, Google's removal team will assess the case. It is under obligation to remove only the results that are inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were procesed. According to the company, many of the results it has been asked to remove include cases where an individual has been accused and later cleared of fraud or a scam, violent or serious crime, or child pornography.
There is no set timeframe within which Google must remove the results. We expect that the removal team will be inundated with requests over the next few weeks.
"In implementing this decision, we will assess each individual request and attempt to balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public’s right to know and distribute information. When evaluating your request, we will look at whether the results include outdated information about you, as well as whether there’s a public interest in the information - for example, information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions or public conduct of government officials," says the company.
Once a URL is removed from its search results Google will place a message on that page confirming that some results have been removed following a complaint. This means that even though you will have removed the offending information, those who search for you by name will know that you have tried to hide something.