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How to see everything Google knows about you

How to see everything Google knows about you

google reception headphones girlAdam Berry / Getty
It’s no secret that Google knows a lot about its users.
The tech giant collects tons of data about you, including your search history, location, and voice searches that help improve Google's services and provide relevant ads. However, you might be surprised to know Google can easily take a look at all of the data it has on you.
In October, The Guardian pointed out that every audio command made using an Android phone is recorded and can easily be accessed and played back by visiting the Activity Settings in Google. The same thing can be done if you are an iPhone user and use voice commands with a Google app.
This, of course, isn’t the only thing you might be surprised to find when you take a look at your Google account settings.
Last June, Google created a hub called “My Account” where users can easily view the information the company is collecting and change their settings. And this week the company rolled out a new tool called "My Activity" that shows you almost everything you do online related to your Google account. 
Even if you consider yourself a privacy buff, it’s worth taking a look at your settings from time to time to make sure you’re comfortable with what you are sharing.
Here’s how you can view what information Google is tracking and how to make adjustments.

View all of your web and app activity data

Whether you're searching for something in the Chrome browser on your computer or smartphone or using another Google app like Maps or Now, Google is tracking your activity to help customize your experience.
Web and app activity, which includes things like your search history and activity in maps, are turned on by default on both iPhone and Android devices because they are tied to your Google account.
You can view all of this information by using the "My Activity" tool. 
Google My ActivityGoogle's new "My Activity" tool shows you just how much the company knows about you.Screenshot
But if you see something you want Google to stop tracking, you have to dig a little deeper. 

Stop Google from tracking your web activity

First, go to “My Account” then under the “Personal info & privacy” section select "Manage your Google Activity." 
Google privacy Screenshot
From there, select “Activity controls.” 
Google PrivacyScreenshot
Here you'll see all of the kinds of data Google is tracking. To disable web and app activity, simply click the icon on the right. 
Google web app Screenshot
If you want to take it one step further and delete your web activity, you'll need to follow a few steps. 
First, select "Manage Activity." This will take you back to your "My Activity" page where you will want to select the menu icon (three vertical dots) in the upper right hand corner. 
Select "Delete activity by" and then in the drop down menu choose "All time." You can also opt to delete data within a specific time period by selecting certain dates in the drop down menu. 
Google privacyScreenshot
For more information about how to delete searches on your computer or mobile device, check out this helpful Google support page

Check to see if you are currently sharing your location 

If you have given Google the okay, it will use your smartphone to track your location.
You can see if you are sharing this info under “Activity controls” and view exact locations that are stored for you by clicking “Manage Activity.”  
Just like for web browsing, you can turn location tracking off by simply disabling the icon on the right. 
To delete any location history, select "Manage Activity" then click on the icon shaped like a garbage can in the bottom right hand corner. 
google privacyScreenshot

Listen to audio and voice requests you have made using Google

Google also keeps a recording of voice and audio activity used for voice searches and commands. But only if a user has opted in to use the feature, as it is turned off by default.
google voice searchGoogle
Anytime you say "OK Google" or touch the microphone icon, Google will save your recording.
You can listen to all of your old commands or voice searches by selecting “Manage Activity”under “Activity Controls.”
To learn more about audio recordings Google stores visit this helpful support page.

Review your YouTube activity

Google keeps tabs on what you search for on YouTube and which videos you have watched. Like other settings, these can be managed under "Activity Controls."
You can view the day and time you searched for or watched videos, as well as the device you were using during that activity. 
You can edit your searches or the list of videos you watched, or delete everything following the same steps as you would if you were deleting your web and app activity data.
Youtube watch historyGoogle
It's also worth noting that Google has a privacy check-up feature that will walk you through more steps one-by-one to make sure that you are sharing data you are comfortable with. It will also help you make sure your security and ad settings are up to date. 
To learn more about how Google uses your data, check out its privacy site.
Read the original article on Tech Insider


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