IMPORTANT: Google Security and Privacy Dashboard
Google’s “My Account” dashboard got a major overhaul recently. The dashboard, from which users can manage security, privacy, and user preference settings for many Google properties, grew haphazardly over time until it resembled a bulletin board in a laundromat, with unrelated pages stuck together randomly. The new dashboard is much cleaner and easier to navigate. I recommend every Google user go through them from end to end...
What's in the "My Account" Dashboard?
If you use any Google service that requires a login, such as Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Google+ or Blogger, you have a Google account. Each service has a variety of settings, some with privacy and/or security implications. So it's a good idea to occasionally look at the whole picture. To use the Google "My Account" dashboard, you must be signed in to your Google account.
The main page of the My Account dashboard now shows three logical topics: 1) Sign-in & security, 2) Personal info & privacy, and 3) Account preferences. Let's take a look at each.
When you click on any of the three major topics, you are taken to a page that’s divided into two frames. On the left is a sidebar showing all three major topics and their subtopics, a very easy way to navigate to any setting desired. In the main window you’ll find specific settings you can change or historical data you can review.
For example, you can change your password from the Sign-in & Security section, and toggle 2-step verification on or off. Google’s 2-step verification involves sending a one-time PIN to your phone each time you log in. Both the PIN and your password are required for access. I strongly recommend that you DO use 2-step verification for Google and any other online service that offers it. (See SECURITY TIP: Two Factor Authentication)
The Security Checkup under Sign-in & Security walks you through your account recovery information; devices that recently connected to your account; access settings for “less secure” apps; account permissions granted to other apps; and Gmail settings. A recent connection from an unfamiliar device may indicate that someone else has your Google password. It’s good to review account permissions and cancel those that you no longer wish to grant. If your account recovery email address or phone number has changed, this checkup reminds you to update it.
The Personal info & Privacy section is where you can control what information about you and your online activity Google saves and uses to tailor ads to your interests, location, and so on. Let's click on the "Your personal info" link first.
Aside from verifying your name, email and phone, the item I find most useful is "Search settings." Click the "Manage settings" link next to Search Settings. At the bottom of the Search Settings page, you'll see a link to view, edit or turn off your Google search history. You can even search your search history, and delete items you don't want to be stored there. In addition, links for your YouTube Watch History and YouTube Search History are available on this page.
Moving back to the Personal info & privacy category on the dashboard, there is even an option to opt out of all interest-based Google advertising across the Web. Click on "Ad settings" then click "Manage your ad settings" then scroll down to the bottom of the next page. You have a choice to make here. Do you want ads that are relevant to your age and interests, or ads that are completely random?
The third major topic on the "My Account" dashboard is Account preferences. It includes your language preferences and input tools, an overview of your Google Drive storage used and remaining, and a “delete your account or services” section.
Yes, you can delete that unused and unwanted Google+ page. You can delete your YouTube account and all its content, and your Gmail address and all the info in that account. You can even delete your Google account and all data associated with it across all Google services. The power is yours! Be careful with that power, though; once something is deleted it cannot be recovered.
The new "My Account" dashboard is a vast improvement over the old mishmash of random pages. It makes security and privacy options more obvious and easier to manage. Spend a few minutes there and make sure all settings are in line with your preferences and expectations.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 5 Jun 2015
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Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved