Mar 10th, 2017

Did you know that Google tracks and records almost everything that you do on their services? They keep records of, well, everything. What you search. What you watch. What you listen to. Where you’re going. What you say.

Breaking it down like that, it sounds really… stalkerish, and we wouldn’t blame you for gagging at the thought of some of your most embarrassing searches performed, videos watched, and apps used being logged in a lifelong archive.

“Thankfully, Google doesn’t keep any of it a secret as they list it all under your MyActivity portal. We’ll show you how to wipe, erase, and prevent Google from tracking this stuff in the future- jump to the bottom of this article for the details.

Here is a list of the tabs Google is keeping on you and your daily activities.

Video Search

Every video you watch as a result of finding it through Google Search, not just YouTube, is documented. Yes, that means PornHub.

Search

Google makes a note of every site you visit as a result of one of their searches, no matter how embarrassing they may be.

Voice & Audio

All those “OK, Google” queries on your phone are not just logged, but fully recorded and transcribed. And they even have clips you might not have ever intended to record due to false triggers.

YouTube

Like video search, anything you watch on YouTube shows up here (and in your History tab on YouTube itself).

Image Search

Google not only knows the terms you used in your image search but even knows which images you ended up clicking on.

Maps

Places you search for and even directions to those places are chronicled here.

Android

Shows the latest apps you’ve run across all your Android devices.

Assistant

Shows you the latest query or command issued to Google Assistant across all compatible devices and apps. It doesn’t show you the responses from the Assistant.

Ads

Google doesn’t necessarily show you which ads you viewed or clicked on, just that you used an app or visited a website with a Google ad.

Books

Any books you happen to read — even the excerpts of them — are linked right here.

Developers

Poking around Google’s developer sites for some firmware images? They track you every step of the way.

Express

Any products you view on Google’s Shopping Express service are remembered.

Finance

This gives you a quick rundown of the stocks you’ve looked up.

Goggles

This app is dead, but boy was it cool for its time. Google Goggles allowed you to do things like scan barcodes to see product information or take a photo of an object to learn more about it. MyActivity even has pictures of anything you’ve scanned.

Help

Google shows you which of their help portals you visit.

News

Every news article you click on as a result of a Google News search is documented here.

Google Play

Google remembers not only everything you search for on Google Play but even the content you choose to view as a result of those searches.

Play Music

On Play Music, Google knows what music you’ve searched for.

Shopping

Google will show you not only the general products you’ve searched for on their Google Shopping comparison tool but specific individual product listings, too.

Do I have to consent to this?

Much of this stuff has long been opt-out, meaning you consented to Google’s practices just by signing up for their services, but you have also long been given the option to refuse it afterward. The problem is that it was never always obvious how to do that.

But in recent times, Google has gotten really transparent about all this stuff it keeps on you, and notes that they collect this information to better improve their products and services. Sometimes, this betterment comes in the form of tailored ads and search results based on your browsing history, Google Searches, YouTube activity, and more.

How do I get rid of it?

If you decide you don’t want Google collecting all this data, it’s really easy to both opt out and delete everything it already has stored on you at your MyActivity portal.

Opting Out

  1. On the left sidebar, click the Activity Controls link. On the page that opens, you’ll see all the categories Google collects information under, as well as an explanation of what’s collected.
  2. Consider your options, and use the toggle button on the right side of each card you want to change in order to turn it on or off.
  3. Check under each section to make sure there aren’t sub-options which can also be toggled, such as the Chrome browser tracking under the Web & App Activity section.

Deleting Data

  1. On the left sidebar, click the Delete Activity By link.
  2. Select your date range.
  3. Select 1 applicable category, or select All Products to flush it out in one fell swoop.
  4. Press the Delete button.

Note that you can also delete individual items from any category on the MyActivity portal itself:

  1. Press the 3-dot menu button to the right of whichever item you want to delete.
  2. Choose Delete.
  3. Press Delete on the popup menu to confirm.

Your Data, Your Control

You’ll find that Google gives you a lot more control over your data than you think. Other things they allow you to do are pausing location sharing, downloading an archive of your entire search history before deleting it, and even the ability to manage how Google chooses which ads to show you.

Those extras can be accessed by clicking the Other Google Activity link on the left sidebar of the MyActivity site. Be sure to take some time to explore all your options and take charge of your account, your data, and — ultimately — your life!

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