Google is a pretty powerful company. Even though it is primarily known for its search engine, it also has almost every bit of data on you, including the videos you watch, sites you visit, places you go, shopping habits and much more. This sounds scary, but it is true. Along with the search engine, the company offers several other services – such as YouTube, Google Maps, Gmail and more – that help it to keep tabs on you. You can, however, easily manage your Google data.
How Google collects data on you
Google offers many valuable services, and the company monetizes most of their services by collecting information and showing advertising. If you use any of Google’s services, then there are good chances that the company has a fair amount of information on you. The search giant may use this data to boost the effectiveness of its ads.
For instance, if you use YouTube, Google knows the videos you watch. If you use Google Maps (Android or iOS), it knows the places you visit, the routes you take, your timing and more, even if you don’t open the app. If you think about all the data that the search giant has on you, you will quickly realize how frightening it is. The good thing, however, is that Google allows you to manage the data it has on you.
Data privacy is now the top priority of internet users, thanks to the stream of data leaks and privacy violations involving big tech companies in recent times. Google, on its end, has responded well to these concerns by creating a privacy hub that allows you to manage your Google data. You can use this hub to access the data Google has on you, delete any data or tweak any data collection settings that you are not happy with.
Before we detail how to manage your Google data, first let’s see how to check what information Google has on you that is displayed publicly.
What data on you Google shares publicly
Follow the below steps to check the data that Google displays about you publicly:
First, open the browser window and go to your Google Account page.
Second, now type your Google username.
Third, go to the menu bar and select personal information. From here you can delete or change any photo, name, phone number, email, and more.
Fourth, to check the information that the search giant displays publicly about you, scroll down to the bottom and select About me.
Fifth, after checking, you can go back to the menu bar and make appropriate changes.
Currently, there is no way to make all the information private.
How to manage your Google data
Now, let’s see the steps to manage your Google data:
First, log in to your Google account and from the navigation bar select Data & Personalization.
Second, to check the data that Google has maintained on you, go to Activity controls and click Web & App Activity.
Third, if you want Google to stop tracking all your web data, such as image searches, browser history, map data, Google Assistant data, then uncheck all the boxes. Google, however, says that it could affect how the services work.
Fourth, if you don’t want Google to stop but want to put some restrictions on Google’s data collection, click Manage Activity. This page will also list the data that Google has on you dating back to the time when you first created the account.
Fifth, you can set a timeline when Google will automatically delete your data, such as every three months or 18 months. To do this, select delete automatically and then pick the time frame you wish. Now, Google will also delete all data that is older than the time frame you selected. For instance, if you selected three months, any data older than that will be deleted automatically.
Sixth, you can also choose to delete all your data manually. For this, go to the navigation bar and select Delete activity by, and then choose the time – last hour, last day, all-time or any other specific time range.
Seventh, once you select to delete data (manually or automatically), you will get a pop-up to confirm your decision.
To check if the data has been deleted as per the options you selected, go back to Manage Activity.
Can Google be stopped?
It must be noted that the above section is only about managing your Web & App Activity, meaning, it does not include your location information, YouTube data, device information and Voice & Audio Activity. There are separate options to manage each of these sections. You can access each of these sections under the Data & personalization. All these are listed below Web & App Activity.
A point to note is that even if you turn off some data collection settings, the search giant may still get your personal data. For instance, Google says that even if the location services are disabled, it can track your physical location using data from Wi-Fi and other wireless signals near your smartphone.
You can also refer to the below video for help: