Yesterday I read an article on CNET’s website entitled: “Is Google tracking you?” I sighed and thought, if you haven’t realized that yet, you’re either living in denial or in ignorance. That being said, many of us didn’t realize just how closely we were being monitored and analyzed though, when we signed up for that free g-mail e-mail account, or researched a topic online, or got that cool new smart phone.
Try logging into your Google account at this link:
Sign in at the upper right corner. Then you’ll be brought back to this page, with your picture and name at the top, where the shield is. If you scroll down you’ll see this claim from Google:
“We’re committed to your privacy and security.” Really?
“Device Activity & Notifications” will show you the devices that they are using to monitor you – your computer, tablet, Kindle, cell phone, etc.
“Your Personal Info” starts with the basics – name, all e-mail addresses, your phone number(s), birthday, and gender. (I chose “rather not say” for gender, ha ha. If they can’t figure it out, why should I tell them?)
“Manage Your Google Activity” (in Personal info & privacy) shows every website you’ve visited under “review activity”, while reminding you at the top of the page that “Google protects your privacy”! Here’s what it listed about me this morning, right down to the minute that I read the CNET article. You can click on the three little dots on the right part of each website visited, and delete that individual entry. Or you can click the three little dots in the blue bar at the top, and delete entire days of websites visited, or everything. It’s not going to stop them from going right back to making a list of where you’ve browsed though.
If you scroll down a bit, you’ll see “Timeline In Google Maps”.
This is where they use “Location History” to create a map of where you’ve been, and when. It is kind of interesting to be able to see the map with its little red dots of locations you were at. You can click on “visited”, “most visited”, or “unconfirmed”. I noticed that many of the unconfirmed locations were businesses I had never been inside. Likely their WiFi had registered on my phone as I walked by.
By default, your smart phone is set to record these locations. It does need this information if you are using their maps program to direct you to your destination while driving. But you can go into your phone settings and manually turn it off if you don’t want it recording every place you go (or pass by).
You can delete all the location history on you by right-clicking the little cog/wheel symbol in the lower right area of the page. Supposedly then it’s erased, although my pessimistic mind figures that Google probably still has it saved on a server somewhere. Well, all we do is be mindful of what we post and view online, and use the tools that are available to hopefully minimize what information is saved about us.