Q: How do I get Google to change my profile information? It is way out of date, and I am starting to believe it is turning off new people I meet who want to check me out on Google before even meeting for coffee. I never asked to be on Google. What can I do?
A: Removing your information from the Google search engine isn't easy.
Google, as a rule, doesn't let people delete information about themselves from its Web searches just because they want to.
"There is very little that we remove from search results on a discretionary basis," Google says.
In order for Google to delete information from searches, the data must pose a legal problem or be likely to cause a person specific harm, such as fraud or identity theft. If asked, Google will delete Social Security numbers and bank account or credit-card numbers. It also will delete child pornography and trademark or copyright violations.
Alternatively, you can identify the individual websites that contain information about you and ask the webmaster of each of those sites to remove it. There is no guarantee they'll comply.
If a website does agree to remove your personal information, you can then ask Google to delete any old copies it has of that particular website (Google doesn't scan the Web for each search; it scans recently made copies of websites. So eliminating old Web page copies is important.)
For details on how to ask Google to remove personal information, see tinyurl.com/qctoxw5 and tinyurl.com/6vl5skp . Google offers details about requesting a website to remove information at tinyurl.com/onydrgo .
Q: I periodically send an email to my several hundred small-business customers. But as my customer mailing list has grown, my outgoing emails have been blocked for 24 hours by either AT&T or Yahoo for "abuse." I broke my distribution list into smaller groupings, but I'm still getting blocked. Advice?
A: AT&T uses Yahoo for its branded email. And Yahoo's email system is notorious for monitoring the number of identical emails a user sends, then automatically blocking the users that appear to be spammers (people who send huge volumes of junk or malicious email). This blocking, while temporary, is intended to encourage spammers to use another system. Most big email system operators react the same way Yahoo does.
The best solution is to avoid sending hundreds of identical emails in a short time. You could vary the content of your customer emails, so that they don't appear to be identical spam messages. Or you could send your identical emails in batches of 10, spaced over several days.
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, city and phone number.