Well how much does the Big G really know about you?
Quite a lot, is the answer.
When you use Google, you are making a deal. You use services like Gmail, Drive, search, YouTube and Google Maps for free. In exchange, you agree to share information about yourself that Google can share with advertisers so their ads are more effective. Google uses a lot of methods to learn about you. In theory, your age, your gender, your interests, your search habits and your location history – along with any information you have included on your Google+ profile – should provide quite a comprehensive portrait. However, depending on what permissions and access you have given Google at any given time, this picture could have been heavily distorted. For example, Google has a record of every search you’ve ever made. Yes, every single search! This includes voice searches and YouTube searches. So if you’ve ever searched for anything embarrassing , it’s been recorded. To get hold of details Google has about you, read on.
Check which apps are connected to your account?
You can also use the “Sign-in & security” tab to keep track of which apps and sites you have approved to connect to your account, and remove ones you no longer use or trust. Scroll down to the “Connected apps & sites” section and click on “Manage apps” to see which apps are connected to your account. For any apps that you no longer use, click on them and then click the “Remove” button. You can also use this section to check which passwords from Chrome and Android are saved with Google Smart Lock, and remove any you no longer use.
Check what search data does Google hold about you?
Now to get to the saucy stuff. If you want to know what search data Google holds on you, go back to your account home page (/) and click on “Personal info & privacy”. Scroll down to “Activity controls” and under “Your searches and browsing activity” click “Manage activity”. In the top right hand corner of the “Insights” box, click the arrow next to “last week” and select “all time”.
This will give you a chronological list of everything you’ve searched for on any device, provided you were logged into your Google account at the time. You can go through and delete specific searches. If you want to stop Google from recording your searches, go back to the “Personal info & privacy” page and under “Activity controls” untoggle “Your searches and browsing activity”.
Google warns that pausing this setting will prevent products like Google Now and Google+ from using your web and app activity to improve their suggestions and updates and provide personalized content.
Check what Google knows about where you have been?
Many Google apps use location information to personalize the experience for the user. As a result, Google probably has a fairly good idea which places you have been to. If you want to know exactly what location data Google holds on you, go to the “Personal info & privacy” tab, and under “Places you go” click on “Manage activity”.
This will bring up a map of where you have been with your signed-in devices, with red dots representing locations you have visited. It may also show your home and work addresses, if you have provided this information.
To delete any of these records, just click on the dustbin icon in the corner of the “Timeline” panel. You can also prevent Google from recording this information by going back to the “Personal info & privacy” page and untoggling “Places you go”.
Once again, Google warns that this limits functionality of some Google products over time, such as Google Maps and Google Now.
Check who Google thinks you are?
A good way to find out who Google thinks you are, is to check what information it uses to serve you ads.
You can do this by going back to the “Personal info & privacy” page, scrolling down to Ads settings and clicking “Manage ad settings”. Here you can see what Google has identified as your gender and age, and a list of any interests Google has associated with your profile.
You can edit these interests, if you want to see more relevant ads, or delete them all, if you’d rather Google didn’t try to tailor your ad experience.
There’s no escaping Google!