goodgle search, online privacy, online scams
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Google's new personal information removal submission page.

In the internet era, the idea of personal privacy is all but a myth. With a few keystrokes just about anyone can get your home address, phone number, email, age and the names of your family members. The fact that this information is readily available puts us all in the dangerous position of being the victim of fraud, stalking and violence.

What makes the situation even worse is that our information was put online without any of our consent.

The good news is that Google just made a big change that gives us all a little more control over our personal information. On April 27, the company announced it will allow anyone to request removals of their personal information from its Search feature.

“Open access to information is a key goal of Search, but so is empowering people with the tools they need to protect themselves and keep their sensitive, personally identifiable information private. That’s why we’re updating our policies to help people take more control of their online presence in Search,” Michelle Chang, Google’s Global Policy Lead for Search, announced on the company’s blog.

"[T]he internet is always evolving—with information popping up in unexpected places and being used in new ways—so our policies and protections need to evolve, too," Chang continued.

The new policy also allows people to request the removal of personal information in Search that could be used for financial fraud such as log-in credentials or account numbers.

Although Google’s new policy is a step in the right direction, it doesn’t cure the problem altogether. "It's important to remember that removing content from Google Search won't remove it from the internet, which is why you may wish to contact the hosting site directly, if you're comfortable doing so," Chang said.

Do you have any personal information that pops up in Google Search that you’d like to have removed? Visit the topic’s support page, scroll down and click the “Start removal request” link. As you follow the prompts you will be able to specify the personal information that shows up in Search and will be asked to share a list of relevant search terms, such as your full name, maiden name and nickname. You’ll also be able to share supplemental details before submitting the request.

After your request is submitted, you should receive an email from Google confirming the request was received. It’s unclear how long the removal process will take.

Google’s new policy changes come during a surge in online fraud. The Federal Trade Commission reported that consumers lost $5.8 billion to scammers in 2021, a jump of 70% from the previous year.

A big portion of fraud is committed through online scams as well as identity theft and telephone solicitations.

In an attempt to give the FTC more power to fight back against fraud, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, chair of the Commerce Committee, will introduce legislation this week to make it easier for the Committee to sue deceptive companies and scammers.

“If the FTC remains disarmed of this critical authority, millions of consumers and small businesses who’ve been scammed, swindled, or locked out of competitive marketplaces will never be made whole,” Cantwell said in a statement.


Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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