A guide to what Google knows about you, how to delete the data and how to make sure it knows less about you in the future.
Google stores every search, including searches on Google services like YouTube and Maps.When you think about it, Google can learn a lot about you from just a handful of searches. Your location, age, shopping habits, hobbies, medical conditions – it’s all up for grabs.
Google uses this information to customise your search results and generate those targeted ads you see around the Internet.
Now there’s word that Google will soon be using people’s names and faces to further “personalise” targeted ads. As you can imagine, lots of folks aren’t too keen on the idea of their face showing up in ads.
Google saves all your searches
Probably the least surprising of the lot, but Google has all of your search history stored up.
How to delete it: If you’d rather not have a list of ridiculous search queries stored up, then head to Google’s history page, click Menu (the three vertical dots) and then hit Advanced -> All Time -> Delete.
If you want to stop Google tracking your searches for good, head to the activity controls page and toggle tracking off.
You can stop all google activities by togglling off all activities like location history , Device Information , Youtube search History etc.
Google tracks and records your location
As well as recording your searches and your voice, Google has also been keeping tabs on your location.
Google’s location history, or timeline page, serves up a Google Map and allows you to select specific dates and times and see where you were. Its accuracy depends on whether you were signed into your Google account and carrying a phone or tablet at the time.
How to delete it: When you visit the timeline page you can hit the settings cog in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen and select delete all from there.
There’s also the option to pause location history by hitting the big button in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen.
But this one is a little trickier to completely get rid of, because to stop it happening in future you’ll need to opt out of both location tracking and location reporting with your device — whether you’re running Android or iOS.
Delete all your online accounts associated with your Google ID
If you’ve ever wanted to remove yourself (almost) entirely from the internet, Swedish website Deseat.me uses your Google account to help.
Using Google’s OAuth protocol, which allows third-party users to access your other accounts without finding out your password details, Deseat.me brings up all your online and social media accounts and allows you to delete yourself from them.
How to delete it: Visit Deseat.me and input your Gmail address. It will bring up all the online accounts linked to that email address and allow you to get rid of them.
Of course, this won’t automatically wipe out your search information. Google will continue to store your information for audits and internal use.However, it won’t be used to create targeted ads or customise your searches.
Even if you don’t have a Google account, Google still records your information by storing cookies in your browser. You can delete cookies with a free tool like CCleaner.
However, Google store new cookies – and collect new information – when you start searching again.So You have to clean your cookies regularly.
Browse in private with Incognito mode
Incognito mode only prevents Chrome from saving your site visit activity. It won’t stop other sources from seeing what sites you’ve visited, including:
Your Internet service provider
Your employer (if you’re using a work computer)
The websites you visit themselves