[PRIVACY] What Does Google Know About You?
Google provides a cornucopia of useful services: search, email, cloud storage, productivity tools, and much more. Virtually all of them are free for personal use, and not very expensive for businesses and other organizations. But free stuff comes with a price. Read and learn what's in your Google dossier, and how to limit what information is collected...
Everything Google Knows About You (and How to Restrict It)
Do you use Google Search, Chrome, YouTube, Gmail, Google Docs, Maps or any of these other Google services? If so, are you aware of the information that Google collects about your online activities?
Google wants to know everything about you, so that it can tell advertisers what you are likely to buy. There is nothing sinister about this; Google is up front about what data it collects and what is shared with advertisers.
But for many people, it comes as a surprise to learn exactly how much data Google collects and what inferences it draws from the data. You may want to see what Google knows about you, and limit what it can learn. Google makes it easy but not obvious.
Every Google account includes a “Web & App Activity” page, but it isn’t easy to find accidentally. Go to https://history.google.com/history and if you're not already signed into your Google account, do so. Click the arrow next to “Last week” and change it to “All time” to see everything Google has collected about you since your Google account was created.
Scroll down and you’ll find that Google notes everything you have searched for, the date and time you searched for it, what Web pages you viewed, what locations and driving directions you looked up on Google Maps.
At the top of this activity page, Google assures you, “Only you can see this data. You’re in control. You can delete items or update this setting anytime in Settings.” So let’s go to Settings and see how to do that. Click on the “hamburger” icon - three horizontal lines in the upper-left corner of the page - to open the settings for your Google history. A sidebar opens (see image) showing the categories of data collected.
Viewing and Managing Your Google History
Click on any of the categories in Settings, e.g., “YouTube Watch History.” Check the box to the left of an item. Now click on the three stacked dots way over on the right end of the item. See the option to delete all records of views of a particular YouTube video? That can come in handy if you view a video, intentionally or not, that you’d rather not have anyone know you viewed.
In similar fashion, try the "Web & App Activity" or "Voice & Audio Activity" categories from the Settings menu at the top left. Scrolling through the list of items, you'll see it's organized by date. Note the check box next to a given date; check it and “1 day” appears in a menu bar at the top of this page. “Delete” deletes all of that type of activity for that day or any number of days you have selected.
Want more control? At the top of the screen, over on the right-hand side, you'll see a magnifying glass, a calendar page icon, and three vertical dots. Use the magnifying glass to find items in your history. Click the calendar page to see what you did on a given date. Click the dots to reveal the "Delete options" feature. You can use this to delete history items from Today, Yesterday, the Past 4 Weeks, or All Time.
Back in the Settings sidebar, “Activity Controls” (at the bottom of the screen) provides simpler, broader control over what Google collects about you. Click on any of the categories for an explanation of what it includes and why Google wants it. Slide the blue on/off button to the state that you desire. Google will try to convince you to leave it “on” but the choice is yours.
So you can control what Google collects about you, on a broad or item-specific basis. The problem is that Google collects so much data that micro-managing controls is an overwhelming chore. The “Activity Controls” are where you can set and forget your privacy preferences. The item-by-item or day-by-day controls are for special occasions when your default settings are not enough.
What's your opinion on limiting (or not limiting) what Google knows about you? Do you opt out of certain types of data collection, or do you let it ride? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 16 May 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- [PRIVACY] What Does Google Know About You? (Posted: 16 May 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved