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What does Google really know about you?

  • 23rd August 201723/08/17
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We all spend a lot of time on the internet, and the majority of us will use Google to find information on a daily basis, but have you ever considered how much information the search engine giant keeps on you and how they potentially use that data?

The answer for most will be ‘no’, but if we were to ask if you ever notice adverts appearing based on what you’ve recently been searching for then that answer may well turn to a ‘yes’. The reason for this is that Google uses our search history and the sites we visit to build a picture of who we are and what we want to buy – this then translates into a powerful tool that businesses of all sizes can use in order to reach their customers (by paying per click on the adverts that then display in front of them).


What information is being collected about you?

Google stores a huge amount of information on each and every one of us that uses the search engine – and let’s be honest, that’s pretty much each and every one of us!

Whilst it will likely come as no surprise that they’re watching your search and website history, did you know that Google Map searches are also stored in order to get an idea of the location and sorts of places you’re visiting, as well as the videos you watch on Google-owned YouTube?

What you search – where you go – what you watch.

These all build a picture of who you are and make their advertising platform more accurate.

If you’re not a fan of Apple and you prefer your phone in an Android format (e.g. Samsung phones), then your contacts, calendars, apps and even audio recordings of your voice can form part of the bigger Google picture!

How do I see what is being stored about me?

In order to see the information stored about you you’re going to need to login to your ‘Google account’. This will sometimes flummox some as you may believe you don’t have a Google account when you perhaps do as you’ll have one if you use any Google product.

The most common of these will be Gmail (Google Mail), which is used by millions to send and receive their emails.

If you’re logged into Gmail or any other Google product, then they have a ‘My Account’ hub (which you’ll see by clicking in the top right hand corner of the screen when you go on Google and hitting the big MY ACCOUNT button.


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In here users are able to view the information being collecting about them and this includes a feature included called ‘My Activity’ which shows you almost everything you do online related to your Google account!


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How to stop your web & app activity being stored

You’ll be pleased to hear that you are able to amend your settings with just the click of a button! If you go into your ‘Activity controls’ the first section displayed is the ‘Web & App activity’. Here you will be able to switch a blue toggle to ‘off’.


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Want to delete it all?

If you’d like a clean slate, then you’re able to delete all of the content which is held about you very easily. Before you do, it might be useful to download a copy, to avoid losing anything you might need in the near future.

Go to ‘My Account’, ‘Personal info & privacy’, scroll down to ‘Control your content’ and click “Create Archive”.


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If you are sure you would like to delete all trace of your data, go to ‘My activity’, click the three dots in the right-hand corner and select “Delete activity by”. You are able to select ‘all time’ or tailor it to a certain date.


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