We’ve all been guilty of posting images or things we’re not proud of, or things we’d rather just never see again. Whether it’s a picture of you with your ex (Yuck), that angsty picture you took when you were a teen that makes you cringe, or just a whole web page all together; there are steps you can take to remove these from Google searches.
Not only that, but Google yourself really quick, I’ll wait. Notice all of those sites that list your personal information like siblings, addresses etc? Yeah, let’s nuke that too. A forewarning though, this process is not a quick one, prepare to either fork over a lot of money to a service to take care of it, or spend at least a full day taking these out.
Really quickly though I want to touch on how those sites get this info. What they do is comb through the web to find info with a high probability of being linked to you. Have you made an account somewhere and made your date of birth public? Now that site has your birthday. Listed a spouse or family member on Facebook? Yep, they got that too. The first line of defense is your privacy settings and since I cannot realistically go over every single site you might have an account with, I highly suggest really diving deep in to how to make your profile not appear in search indexes. I know for a fact Facebook has this option, and spoiler alert, it defaults to including your page in Google searches.
Let’s get started!
IMPORTANT: If you need to remove images/content for legal reasons, it must be submitted here.
I’d imagine most people will find this guide to remove image/page searches so we’ll start there.
This method assumes you have access to the accounts these photos/pages were posted under.
Step 1: We need to find the image(s) or page you would like to remove on Google. Head over to Google Images if removing photos and type in anything that might meet your query (i.e. Your name, old screen names, emails, etc). For other content, just use plain old Google.
Step 2: Once you’ve found the image and it’s host site we need to remove it from there. For example, if you had a picture on Photobucket, Flickr, Facebook, or Myspace, we need to log in to those accounts and delete the picture or just delete the accounts altogether. If you are deleting the account entirely, usually a tab in the settings page will have this option. (Note: I’m sure many of you, like me, may not remember passwords and accounts from forever ago, don’t worry, if password resets aren’t possible, email customer support. I’ve sent an image of my drivers license and had the account removed. YMMV.)
Step 3: Once you have deleted the image or page you’ll notice that it still appears in Google’s search index! Google will eventually remove it automatically, but we can actually expedite the process. Now, using the same search you did previously to find the content for removal, find it again. Once you have found it, right click on the image and click “Copy Image Location”. For web pages, you can right click the URL from Google and click “Copy Link Location”.
Step 4: We need to report to Google that this image/page no longer exists. Head over to the Remove Outdated Content page on Google. Now all you have to do is take that link you copied from your image and paste it in the text box and click request removal. This will automatically start a tool in a pop-up that is going to check if the link leads to an image that no longer exists. If you’ve done everything correctly, you will be met with a message determining that it has been erased from the original page and a removal can be requested.
Once you’ve clicked “Request Removal” you will see the link’s pending action below. I’ve seen an average of 48 hours between the time I requested the removal to deletion. It is really quick! Rinse and repeat to your heart’s desire!
Alright, we’ve made great strides in our privacy endeavors, now let’s tell those stalker sites to #$% off.
Like I said earlier, this process is a little daunting. It all comes down to how much you value your privacy. Lifewire has published a very in-depth guide here including even the specifics of each site in regards to how you remove yourself. Before you head over I have one VERY IMPORTANT TIP for you. Many if not all of these sites require you to register in order to remove yourself. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT USE YOUR DAILY DRIVER EMAIL ACCOUNT!!!!
They will spam you with upsells and most of their unsubscribe forms for their emails are broken. There is a great website you can go to in order to create a burner email account that requires no registration. Perfect for this application! The email account you create is disposable, it will only last for 60 minutes. Best of all it is 100% free to use, and you can use this website as many times as you want! To create your burner email head on over to this site.
I hope this has helped, if any help is needed please comment and I’ll be there for support! Happy ghosting!