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Pop Culture

Google now allows you to remove your personal information from its search results

We deserve control over our personal information.

goodgle search, online privacy, online scams
via Google and Freepik

Google's new personal information removal submission page.

This article originally appeared on 05.03.22


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.

Nature

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The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Mental health is a top-of-mind issue for a lot of people. Thanks to social media and people being more open about their struggles, the stigma surrounding seeking mental health treatment appears to be diminishing. But after the social and emotional interruption of teens due the pandemic, the mental health crises among adolescents seem to have jumped to record numbers.

PBS reports that Oregon is "ranked as the worst state for youth mental illness and access to care." But they're attempting to do something about it with a program that trains teenagers to answer crisis calls from other teens. They aren't alone though, as there's a master's level supervisor at the ready to jump in if the call requires a mental health professional.

The calls coming into the Oregon YouthLine can vary drastically, anywhere from relationship problems to family struggles, all the way to thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Teens manning the phones are provided with 60 hours of training and are taught to recognize when the call needs to be taken over by the adult supervisor.

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Morning sickness is one of the most commonly known and most joked about pregnancy symptoms, second only to peculiar food cravings. While unpleasant, it can often be alleviated to a certain extent with plain foods, plenty of fluids, maybe some ginger—your typical nausea remedies. And usually, it clears up on its own by the 20-week mark. Usually.

But sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes moms experience stomach sickness and vomiting, right up until the baby is born, on a much more severe level.

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), isn’t as widely talked about as regular morning sickness, but those who go through it are likely to never forget it. Persistent, extreme nausea and vomiting lead to other symptoms like dehydration, fainting, low blood pressure and even jaundice, to name a few.

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