Google My Activity How To Use Explainer – It knows you better than you know yourself. It knows every smartphone you’ve thought about buying, every video you’ve watched on YouTube, every embarrassing disease you’ve suffered.
It’s your Google Activity (formerly known as Google Web and App History) — and it knows everything you’ve searched for dating back to 2005.
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If you’ve ever thought about clearing your Google search history before, this post will teach you how to permanently delete your Google history to improve your internet privacy and your search and browsing data. Stop following you forever.
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Warning: If you use G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Work) at your job, it’s important that you check your company’s acceptable use and data retention policies before deleting anything!
Be assured that what you do on the Internet is private. No one should be keeping tabs on what you do online—not without your knowledge and permission, anyway.
Unless you’ve turned it off, Google Activity has been keeping a record of your online activity for the past decade. It knows every link you’ve followed, every picture you’ve clicked on, and the URLs you’ve entered into the address bar (even if you’re clearing your browser’s search history regularly).
Google uses all this data to create a profile about you, including your age, gender, languages and interests, and filters search results and ads for you based on your profile. It might be smart, but it’s also an incredible loss of your privacy.
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In April 2015, Google quietly released a feature that enables you to download your Google data. Consider permanently deleting and saving your search data before turning it off.
Google’s Takeout feature lets you download data from all the Google products you use, including your Google search history, Gmail, Calendar, Chrome, Google Photos, Maps and more. Here’s how to use Takeout to download all your Google data.
1. Go to the Google Takeout “Download Your Data” page and select the data you want to download. By default, all boxes are selected. Select Next.
2. Select your archive format and delivery method, then select Create Archive. (We’re sticking with the default settings.)
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3. You will receive a notification when the archiving process is complete. In this example, we received an email with a link to download our archive.
Clearing your browser history is not the same as clearing your Google web and app activity. When you clear your browser history, you are only deleting history that is stored locally on your computer. Clearing your browser history does not affect the data stored on Google’s servers.
However, if you are concerned about privacy and the security of your data, you should regularly clear your browser’s cache, which includes your Google search history as well as the cookies, logs, and data stored in your browser. This includes passwords.
How to delete your browser search history on a phone or tablet Delete your Safari search history on an iPhone or iPad:
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Use these steps to delete data from all your Google activity, including your searches, video searches, and any ads you’ve clicked on across all your devices.
2. You can choose how far you want to delete your Google search history and activity. Select All Time from the range of options to delete everything.
3. Choose which Google services to delete your search history and activity from. Click Select All, then click Next.
4. Google will ask you if you want to confirm that you want to delete your activity. Select DELETE.
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Google does not provide a way to permanently disable your activity from being saved, but you can stop. Use these steps to unblock Google to protect your activity.
1. Go to the Activity Management page, where you will see a section for “Web and App Activity”. Slide the switch to the left.
3. Check if your activity is blocked. The screen should say “Web and app activity (blocked)” and the sliding toggle should be green.
4. If you want to “pause” Google by logging your activity on all the Google apps and services you use, slide all the switches on this page to the left.
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By default, Google personalizes your search results based on your search activity. So if you search for recipes and click on links to allrecipes.com more than all other websites, then Google will rank allrecipes.com higher on the search results page every time you search for a recipe. .
If you delete and disable your Google search history, then your return search results will be broader and less specific to you. So allrecipes.com won’t necessarily show up at the top of the results, even if it’s your favorite site.
If you delete and disable your search history, you are not invisible to Google – especially if you maintain an account to use various Google apps and services, such as Gmail and YouTube.
The fact is that it is almost impossible to be invisible to Google. But you can be careful. Start by removing all Google apps and services from your daily web usage. And use search engines that don’t track your search activity, such as DuckDuckGo, Ixquick, and Startpage.
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Clearing your Google search history is a great first step. Now if you really want to step up your internet privacy game, here are more steps you can take:
Even if you delete your search history from your browser, it may still be stored on your Google account. Delete your search history and activity from other Google services from your web and app activity page.
Google Accounts created after June 2020 automatically purge web and app searches after 18 months. For accounts created earlier, Google keeps web and activity data indefinitely by default; In theory, Google will have your search history when you first open your Google Account. However, turning on the automatic deletion option from your web and app activity page will instruct Google to automatically delete your activity after three months or 18 months.
Apart from you and Google, your Google search history can be seen by anyone using your device. Using “Incognito mode” or “Private Browsing” will prevent your searches from being saved on your device.
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Because Google is encrypted, your ISP can’t see your searches, but it can see the domains you’re visiting. Using a VPN will prevent the latter.
It’s also good practice to periodically delete your locally stored browser history and change the web and app activity settings in your Google Account to delete your search history after a short period of time.
Caleb enjoys reading technology news, playing football, and consuming unhealthy amounts of steak. Preferably at the same time. Earlier this year, some of our customers received an email from Google reminding them that they had turned on web and app activity. Those concerned with a healthy dose of caution that it might be a phishing attack, but no, it’s legitimate. Their next questions were often, “Wait, what is web and app activity, and do I want to turn it on?” Here are some answers.
Simply put, web and app activity is a record of almost everything you do on Google sites, apps, and services. This includes your searches and activity in Google Search, Google Maps, Google Assistant, Google News, Google Photos, YouTube and more. If you use Google Chrome as your browser, it includes your browsing history. It also stores usage and diagnostic information from Android smartphones. What is less clear is that web and app activity may also include information about sites and apps that partner with Google to display ads or that use Google services. Activity can be saved even if you are offline or signed out.
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It sounds like a lot, and it is! One of the reasons why there are so many is because Google is a dominant provider of services on the Internet today. Google Search is the most popular search engine, Apple Maps has recently competed with Google Maps, YouTube is the main source of video on the Internet, etc. It’s hard to avoid Google, even if you want to, which most people don’t.
In addition to offering many services, there are two more reasons why Google collects a lot of information about its users: personalization and advertising:
For many (most?) people, there is a conflict between personalization and advertising. You want Google to know more about you so its services work better, but you don’t want the company to know so much about you that it can charge advertisers more to reach you. Advertising-driven companies like Google claim that people prefer personalized ads, but most people we talk to dislike ads—especially for previously purchased items or past vacations—to their Follow around the internet. That’s what Apple is channeling with its tracked video.
What you should do depends on how much you feel you benefit from the personalization of Google apps and services, and what you think about personalized ads. On your Activity Controls page, Google provides a single master switch that lets you block web and app activity, though you’ll need to acknowledge that it’s signed in to your account on Google sites, apps, and May affect your experience of the Services. Be sure to scroll down on this page to access location history, YouTube history, and personalized ads settings.
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