Monday, 21 August 2017 13:18

This is everything Google knows about you - and how to switch it off

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Many are left wondering exactly what the global search giant knows - and how they know

It turns out Google knows a lot about you - an awful lot, in fact.

But exactly how much is "an awful lot"?

Many are left wondering exactly what the global search giant knows - and how they know.

The good news is you can see all this information for yourself.

And, more importantly, you can switch it off.

There are a few steps to follow, but it means you can decide how much of your personal data the company gets to use, reports the Mirror.

The European competition watchdog has fined Google 2.42 billion euros (£ 2.1 billion) for abusing its dominance as a search engine

1. Find 'My Activity'

To see everything you've been using Google for, you'll first need to sign in to your account. Once you're up and running, go to history.google.com/history .

This is your activity page and will display all the information about what you've been up to on Google's services - this includes Maps searches and YouTube videos you've watched.

What search data does Google hold on me?

Scroll down to "Activity controls" and under "Your searches and browsing activity" click "Manage activity".

In the top right hand corner of the "Insights" box, click the arrow next to "last week" and select "all time".

This will give you a chronological list of everything you've searched for on any device, provided you were logged into your Google account at the time.

You can go through and delete specific searches. If you want to stop Google from recording your searches, go back to the "Personal info & privacy" page and under "Activity controls" untoggle "Your searches and browsing activity".

Google warns that pausing this setting will prevent products like Google Now and Google+ from using your web and app activity to improve their suggestions and updates and provide personalised content.

2. Set the time period

The page will show you highlights from various days, weeks or months but you can always decide exactly how much or little of your history you want to see. Click the "Filter by date" box at the top and select the time period you're interested in.

Select "all time" to see just how much you rely on Google's services.

3. View even more information

Google isn't just tracking your browsing - it's also monitoring your location and what devices you use.

Devices

Over the years, you may have logged into your Google account from many devices, so it's worth checking which still ones still have access and removing any you no longer use from the list.

Click the "Sign-in & security" tab and scroll down to "Device activity & notifications". Here it will show you a list of "Recently used devices", with information on when they were last used to access your account.

If there are any devices on the list that you no longer use, click on them and then click the "Remove" button.

Location

From the main activity page, click the three dots on the top right hand corner of the window and select "Settings" then "Show more controls" then "Manage activity" under "Places you go".

Providing you're using location services, you'll get a Google Maps page showing exactly where you've been and when and what transport you used to get there.

This feature is called Google Timeline and it was introduced earlier this year in April as a way to record everything you've done.

"Whether you use Your Timeline to remember your last vacation or what you did last weekend, it’s a useful way to see your life on the map and recall the places you went and activities you enjoyed on any given day, month or year," said Gerard Sanz, the product manager for Google Maps at the time.

4. Who does Google think I am?

A good way to find out who Google thinks you are, is to check what information it uses to serve you ads.

You can do this by going back to the "Personal info & privacy" page, scrolling down to Ads settings and clicking "Manage ad settings".

Here you can see what Google has identified as your gender and age, and a list of any interests Google has associated with your profile.

You can edit these interests, if you want to see more relevant ads, or delete them all, if you'd rather Google didn't try to tailor your ad experience.

However, Google says that the ads you see may still be based on your general location (such as city or state) or recent searches.

5. Download your data

Finally, you can make a copy of the content in your account at any time, and use it for another service or just for your personal records.

Under "Personal info & privacy", scroll down to "Control your content" and under "Download your data" click "Create archive".

This will take you through to a page where you can choose which data to include, and then get a copy emailed to you as a zip file.

 

Google warns that this may take a long time (hours or possibly days) to create, but that it will email you when the file is ready.

6. Delete it ALL

If you're happy with all the information that Google is collecting about you, then all you need to do is carry on as you were. But if you're not, you can delete it all and switch location tracking off.

All you have to do is go back to the three dots in the corner and select the "Delete Options".

This gives you the option to delete data from Today and Yesterday, but click the "Advanced" button and you can wipe everything from the last four weeks of "all time".

If you want to go even further than that and delete your information not just from Google, but also other online services, there is a way.

  1. Go to Deseat.me and sign in with a gmail address.
  2. Look down the list of synced accounts and decide which you want to delete and which you want to keep.
  3. Click the button

It's worth pointing out that the site doesn't pick up everythingyou've ever signed up for - some of the smaller web services appear to fall through the cracks and the delete button is greyed out.

 Source: This article was published birminghammail.co.uk

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