Official: Google Phonebook Not Working (phonebook: operator)

Nov 16, 2010 • 8:44 am | comments (5) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine

There are many searchers complaining that the Google Phonebook is not working. A Google Web Search Help thread has some of those complaints.

It does appear to have changed the way it works. Just recently, Vanessa Fox wrote an article named Removing Your Personal Information From Google. In that article, she had a link to a Google Phonebook result for her own name, which showed several Vanessa Fox results, with addresses and phone numbers. Now, if I click on that search result, I don't see any results.

Google Phonebook

Now, there is nothing.

The thing is, if I knew the specific zip code that person lived in, I can still get phone book results. For example, [vanessa fox, 54661] returns this result:

Google Phonebook

But a simple search for Phonebook results as done in the past, seemed to have stopped showing phone numbers.

Forum discussion at Google Web Search Help.

Update: Google's JohnMu commented below that the phonebook operator was officially removed today. A Googler posted about this on his personal blog explaining.

Things change, and Google has dropped the phonebook: and rphonebook: operators for finding phone numbers (rphonebook: was for "residential phonebook" and focused on home phones). As you can imagine, this was an endless source of hassles for people (who were surprised to see themselves searchable on Google) and for Google (who had to constantly deal with all of the takedown requests and outraged letters from folks who thought they were unlisted).

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John Mueller

11/16/2010 04:50 pm

Dan wrote something about this at . He covers a lot of really neat search-related topics, so I'd recommend following his blog :-).

Michael Martinez

11/16/2010 05:21 pm

Seems Google has made another choice to protect people's privacy. I'm not sure I agree with this one, as that information was readily available through other resources. That's how Google found it in the first place, right? I often used Phonebook. I'm sorry to see it taken down.

Michael balistreri

11/17/2010 06:37 am

While likely unintentional John's statement seems application-wise irrelevant (sorry Michael :) while diametrically opposed to googles normal personal information MO - which we all deal with EVERY DAY as freaking GOOGLE search engine optimizers. Really tasteless actually. But WTF do I know.


12/13/2010 12:34 am

I was use to using it as a convenience and miss it even though I generally had the info somewhere else.

Xander Manuel

01/30/2011 04:36 pm

Well, I obviously didn't use the service often as I just tried to use it 10 minutes ago and I find all this material from November of last year, but even to a casual user like me this is very irritating to think that the resource is just laying around and then ... Poof... But them the breaks right? I mean I can see how this made a huge problem for Google with people thinking there unlist and all. I don't see the point of unlisted anyway though. I mean, unless I KNOW who I'm searching for in the first place then I wouldn't be able to pick a number out of 500 "John Doe" in Alabama. Utterly ridiculous.

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