This is our five minute guide to what Google and the UK government knows about you, and how you can get rid of it!
Google’s business model is based on advertising, and that is based on knowing what you like and what you’re upto. Google tracks everything you do online.
To a certain extent that is fair enough. We would probably rather see adverts related to things we like or endorse. But it’s still nice to know we have the option to find out what Google knows, and maintain our privacy.
1. ALL your searches are saved, Google tracks everything you do online
So we’re starting with the obvious here, but Google stores everything you search for on all of your devices.
What should I do? Simple – on any of your devices go to Google’s history page, click Menu (the three vertical dots) and then hit Advanced, All Time, Delete.
You can even turn it off permanently – go to the activity controls page and toggle tracking off.
2. Google saves every voice search
Voice search usage has soared lately, and Google records what you say every time you speak to it.
If you use Google’s voice search or the voice-activated assistant, Google Now, your speech is recorded so that more relevant ads are served and search features are steadily improved.
Most people don’t realise that many of these searches are actually recorded. You can listen back to exactly what you searched for and how you said it.
What can I do about it? Google has a Voice & Audio Activity page where you can laugh or cringe at your past voice searches. To delete this potentially embarrassing content select one or more of the recordings from the check box beside them and then click “delete” at the top of the screen.
3. Google knows where you’ve been!
Rely on Google maps to get round? We do too! Google maps is a lifesaver but using it does mean that your every move is being tracked and mapped.
Google’s location history gives you a Google Map that allows you to select specific dates and times and see where you were.
How to delete it: Visit your Google timeline page – you can click the settings cog in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen and select delete all.
Or you can pause location history by hitting the big button in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen.
But if you do this, 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.
4. Your advertising power
An interesting place to check out what Google really knows about you is its ad settings page. Sign into your Google account and you’ll see a profile Google has built for you based on your search history, YouTube history and interests.
It might know that you’re a female aged 25-34 with an interest in property, electronics, and mobile phones.
What should I do? You can turn personalisation on or off here – so you won’t keep seeing the same aftershave over and over and over again that you nearly bought from Amazon!
5. Delete your presence
There’s a Swedish website out there called deseat.me that allows you to almost entirely delete your internet presence.
This site uses Google’s OAuth protocol, which allows third-party users to access your other accounts without finding out your password details. You can bring up all your online and social media accounts and delete yourself from them.