*How to control what Google knows about you

By Martin Brinkmann  …..

My Activity is a new, centralized service by Google that reveals how much Google knows about you by displaying your Google activity history.

Up until now, when you wanted to know what Google knows about you, you had to use multiple tools to find out about that. There was one for YouTube videos, another for search, a third for advertisement, a fourth for locations, and so on and so forth.

My Activity by Google combines all these in a simple chronological listing that you can go through easily. The product is Google’s latest effort to improve transparency, and give users more control over (some) of the data that it collects.

Google  My Activity in your Google Account

A short intro is displayed to you on first load that highlights the benefits of My Activity (rediscover, Google’s benefit, and control).

Your Google activity is loaded afterwards in a chronological stream. Entries are sorted by date, and next to them are the activity types listed that Google recorded for that date.

You may see search listed there, help, news, YouTube, or other popular Google services. A bar underneath each type highlights its weight in comparison to the other types.

Each record is listed with the time, the URL that was visited, and additional information such as search terms or URLs.

A click on the three dots next to a date displays an option to delete the record, while a click on the same icon next to a record options to delete it or display details about it.

The top features search and filter options. You may type to find specific Google records of interest, or use the filter to limit records by date or product.

Filters include YouTube, Voice & Audio, Maps, Google Now, Play, Search and others.

Managing your Google Activity

The menu at the top holds several interesting options. First, you may switch from bundle view to item view using it.

Bundle view, the default view mode, bundles related items while item view displays them individually instead.

There is also a select option to select multiple history items using checkboxes to move them to the trash at once.

Google displays a prompt the first time you delete records stating that these records help Google improve your experience when using company services.

It confirms as well that the records are deleted permanently.

The third and final option provides you with options to delete activity by selecting time periods. You may select “all time” and other presets such as “the last 30 days”, or specify a time period manually instead.

To delete Google records by type, run a search or use the filtering system instead, and select the “delete results” option from the menu instead.

Activity Controls

The Activity Controls page lists the current status of Google products and services in regards to tracking.

The following Google products are listed on the page:

  • Web & App Activity
  • Location History
  • Device Information
  • Voice & Audio Activity
  • YouTube Search History
  • YouTube Watch History

A slider next to each item toggles the status between the active and paused status. There is also a manage activity link that loads various timeline pages on Google to display the data and controls.

You may click on “Other Google activity” on the frontpage of My Activity to display links to yet even more activity and history pages.

Control your Google ads

Google revamped the advertisement control pages as well. It offers two of them, one for logged in Google users and another for users who are not logged into a Google account.

The authenticated page lets you switch interests based ads on or off, and explains what they are used for and the difference between the two.

Basically, when turned on, ads will be delivered based on previous account activity while they won’t be based on Google data collected about you when turned off.

The signed out page offers two controls for interest based ads. The first controls the ads experience on third-party sites, for instance those using Google Adsense, the second Google Search ads.

You may turn off both individually on the page.

Google is rolling out the updates currently which means that you may not have access to some or even all of the new tools right now. It will take some time before they are made available to all users.

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4 thoughts on “*How to control what Google knows about you

  1. I think this article is naive. Google collects all kinds of information because we allow it to when we agree to it’s EULA.Simply adjusting settings on your Google account page only affects how it uses the information for marketing, NOT how it collects your personal data.

    Like

  2. That’s right. The Google setting page only controls your basic Google account, not what it has stored and what all it collects.

    Like

  3. It’s easy, don’t sign in to Google through your browser, and stop using Google products unless it’s necessary.

    Like

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