As search engines like Google and Bing have become much better at locating information on the web, the issue of privacy verses freedom gains more publicity.
Search providers do not manually vet each page that appears in the results, in fact only a small proportion are reviewed by a human and considered for removal. This usually only happens when there is a clear legal case or if one has a court order.
The search results are a reflection of the content that already exists on the wider web and as a re-publisher, search providers are offered higher levels of immunity and protection from prosecution than original content creators.
When someone sees a search result that contains private or personal information, the best course of action is usually to contact the original site owner and ask for a take-down. This solves the issue at the source and it is then just a matter of time before this step is reflected in the results pages.
Even though Google do not remove every type of result upon request, they will consider removing certain types of content, usually those that are legal in nature. Google uses various contact forms, some are difficult to locate, often buried within technical help documents. Here is a list of the types of content Google will consider manually removing:
Copyright violation Credit or debit card number ID or social security number Name or business name on spammy adult site Inappropriate images of children Image of handwritten signature Court orders or clear legal requests
If you don’t see a removal request that meets your circumstances then chances are you will need to contact the site owner and ask him/her to remove the offending text, photo, video or entire page from the original web site. Then you can either wait for the Google search engines to update it’s database naturally or use the available automated tool to expedite the removal process.
Removing certain types of sites can involve complex form and a unique understanding of policies and violations. subtractme.com is a site set up to help those wanting to remove search results from Google and other search providers.