Google’s motto is “do no evil”. That was probably written when Google was a pony little startup and all it wanted to do was index all the pages of the internet. Now it wants to map every corner of the world, make self-driving cars, and do lots of other crazy things. All this costs money and if you’re aware, Google doesn’t really ask for money from consumers.
Of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. So you pay with information. Your own, personal information is the cost of free service.
If you’re not willing to pay that price, Google does provide options to delete some of your data and in some places you can opt-out from the tracking altogether. As you’d expect, these options aren’t exactly advertised.
Today we’ll take a look at all the ways Google collects your personal data and the ways you can delete it.
1. Delete Location History
Google literally tracks everywhere you go, when you use Google Maps for navigation and when you don’t. This happens thanks to the Android and iOS apps. And in Android there’s no way to completely disable GPS either. So go to this page and scroll through all the information Google has on you. And then click the Delete all history button.
2. Delete Your Google Search History
Just clearing your browser history won’t help. Go to this link to see all the things you ever searched on Google. Click the Settings icon then choose Remove items and delete your history from last hour or from the “beginning of time”.
3. Opt out of Google Analytics
Website owners use Google Analytics to keep track of people who visit their site. Although personal information is not disclosed, you might want to opt out of Google Analytics by going here.
4. Opt out of Interest Based Ads
Your personal data is ultimately sold to advertisers. Google still makes a majority of its revenue from advertisements. If you don’t want your data used to present tailor-made ads, go to this page, scroll down to Opt out settings and select Opt out of interest-based ads on Google or Opt out of interest-based Google Ads Across the Web.
Just so you know, opting out of interest-based ads won’t disable Google ads altogether. They just won’t be creepy ads based on your personal information.
5. Take Control of Apps Using Your Google Data
A lot of websites and apps let you log in using your Google Account. You might have forgotten about those apps but in a directory somewhere lives your name and email address, in a place it doesn’t need to be. Go to this URL and check out all the permissions you’ve given with your account.
Unauthorize anything that you’re not currently using.
6. Export All the Data Out of Google
Google lets you export all the data it has on you. Bookmarks, history, devices, apps, videos, photos, all of it. Go to this URL and customize the data you want to take out and the preferred format.
Too Late to Un-Google Your Life? Should You Do it At All?
For me it’s probably too late. I am too dependent on Google and its services, and not giving it access to my personal information means that I won’t get the most out of its services. But I can certainly control the other apps using my Google account data and also delete some of the data from time to time to ensure some privacy, if at all. What about you?