Internet users, beware: Google is always watching.
The tech powerhouse’s hubs “My Account” and “My Activity,” introduced in 2015 and 2016 respectively, give us scary insight into what it actually knows about us. The former provides a glimpse into the information the company collects about us and allows us to change our settings. And the latter allows us to view almost all of our online activity that’s tied our Google accounts.
It’s no surprise that the popular search engine collects lots of data about us through our search history, location, and voice searches. Plus, because iPhone and Android devices are tied to our Google accounts, any web or app activity—including our search history and activity in maps—is automatically turned on for tracking. It’s also one of the reasons why you should stop using Google, Facebook, and Twitter to log into apps.
So, why do they do it?
Keeping tabs on our preferences improves Google’s services and provides relevant ads for us. However, here’s the scary part for all you privacy buffs out there: The Google “My Activity” launch revealed that Google can take a comprehensive look at all of the data it has on you, at any given point in time. Google states they do not sell the information on the Google My Activity page to any third party, but having a convenient file of a user’s entire Internet history still feels creepy. Google may also track your location, which gives them additional data about our interests, frequented places, and careers. All of this information makes it easy for Google to analyze what products we’re most likely to be intrigued by, and therefore which advertisements we are most likely to click. And keep in mind that Google can still identify you, even in incognito mode.
How do I view my activity?
Making sure you’re signed in to your Google account, search “Google My Activity” and arrive on this landing page.
Once on this site, you can scroll down to see your Internet history, possibly stretching years back. If that freaks you out, the next step is to pause tracking!
How do I pause tracking?
Since there are so many creepy things Google knows about you, it’s lucky that pausing your web activity is a pretty easy process. On the “My Google Activity” page, select “Activity Controls” in the sidebar. This will take you to a page that explains exactly what information Google is tracking.
Dani Walpole/rd.comDisabling the feature
To disable tracking, simply click the blue slider icon on the right of the “Web & App Activity” screen.
Then, select “Pause”
Congratulations, your Web & App Activity is now paused, and your site visits, purchases, and searches will no longer be recorded by Google!
An extra step for the superstitious
Now, let’s say you want to be extra cautious and delete your web activity completely. On your Google “My Activity” page, select the menu icon (three vertical dots) in the upper right-hand corner. Select “Delete activity by.”Dani Walpole/rd.com
This will navigate you to a new page, where the drop-down menu will give you the option to delete your activity by date. If you want to delete all of your history, select “All time.” If you want to delete data within a specific time period, just select the certain dates in the drop-down menu.
Pretty cool, right? But that isn’t the only thing you can do using Google! Try these cool Google tricks you never knew existed.