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As you may already know, Google collects a ton of data about you in order to improve their services and provide relevant ads. What you may not know is how easy it is to look for this data. Both you and Google have access to all this data and you may be surprised to know just how much Google has stored.
Back in 2015, Google created a hub called “My Account”, where users can view all the information collected and change their settings. This year, they released the “My Activity” tool which shows you pretty much everything related to your Google account. From web searches to Android phone app changes, there’s a vast cornucopia of your online movements logged.
Web and App Activity
This involves just about everything in your Chrome browser or Google apps like Maps and Youtube. As long as your Google account is logged in, your search history and app activity is recorded on Google.
All this information is available on your “My Activity” page. Now that you know just what Google has been tracking, here’s how you can shut it off.
Delete your Google activity
If you want to delete the web and app activity they already have recorded, just go to your “My Activity” page and select the “Delete activity by” option.
This will get rid of whatever Google already has on you in case you’re a little antsy about the information falling into the wrong hands.
Turning off Activity tracking
Here you can go to “Activity Controls” to find the option to prevent Google from saving your search and app activity.
Just hit the switch and turn off Web & App Activity tracking. Now your search history and app activity will no longer be stored away in Google’s Activity page. But do note that this does not mean that Google will stop collecting the information somewhere, even if it is temporary.
Turn off Location tracking
Google uses your smartphone device to track your location to improve the search results you get and pinpoint the best routes to take when you’re heading off to work. While this can be useful, some people prefer not to have that kind of information recorded.
To shut off location tracking, you can disable it in the “Activity controls” page from earlier.
To delete the location history they have stored, go to “Personal info & privacy” and select “Timeline in Google Maps” under “Review activity”.
This page lets you know the various places you’ve visited and the routes taken over the course of your day. You can click on the little trash icon to delete all your currently stored location history.
Turn off Voice & Audio Activity
Google stores the audio inputs you give to your smartphone when searching on Google or when you’re using voice commands. This information is used for voice recognition and speech pattern analysis, but not everyone is interested in that sort.
In the “Activity controls” page, you can turn off the tracking of voice searches and commands. These are the clips Google saves everytime you say “OK Google” or click on the microphone icon to record voice notes and commands on your smartphone.
Google keeps track of all the YouTube videos you watch and the terms you search for. More often than not, this is kind of a useful feature to help you recall what videos you’ve seen a few weeks ago. Did you want to share that funny cat video on your timeline but forgot to save the link? Not to worry, Google knows everything.
You can turn off YouTube tracking in the “Activity Controls” page as usual.
While it may seem a little unnerving to discover all the information Google stores about you, at least they’re not making it difficult for you to review the settings. There’s even a handy Privacy Checkup tool from Google that will help you adjust the settings of what you want shared with people and what you want to keep to yourself.