Google Drops Phonebook Search Operator

Google has dropped the phonebook search operator due to the massive number of requests from people to remove their phone numbers from Google.

I noticed it went missing this morning after spotting complaints in a Google help thread. Googler, John Mueller told me that it was removed and I can read more about this change on Daniel Russell’s blog. Russell is a Google employee and wrote about the feature being sunsetted.

Russell explained that this feature caused an “endless source of hassles for people.” Why? Some searchers were shocked to see their phone numbers and addresses listed on Google. And then Google had to handle “takedown requests and outraged letters” from these users. So Google’s solution was to drop the phonebook: and rphonebook: operators from bringing up phone numbers.

As I explained, you can still bring up phone numbers in Google. But to do so, you need to plug in the full name and zip code of that person. Here is an example of a Vanessa Fox in 54661:

Google Phonebook

As you can see from our Vanessa Fox’s article on this from last week, Google in the past showed all phone number results for all Vanessa Fox listings when you searched for [phonebook:vanessa fox]. This is no longer the case.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Google: Web Search

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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