We all have a slightly unhealthy relationship with snooping, but nobody enjoys stalking quite as much as Google. The company has receipts on where you’ve been, what you’ve been watching and even what you like to eat. Want to see a breakdown of exactly what the company knows about you? Here’s how.
The latter option is a little overwhelming, as you can end up downloading hundreds of megabytes of densely-packed info. If you’re looking for a faster, easier option, here’s how to see what Google knows about you – and how to stop it shadowing your every move.
Your full search history
It’s relatively easy to find this – just head to your account page on Google, click ‘Manage your data and personalisation’, then scroll down to My Activity. Clicking on this will then give you a full, uncensored look into your own searching habits, so it’s best done alone.
To stop this data being tracked, navigate to Activity Controls, click on ‘Web & App activity’, then uncheck the relevant boxes.
Your location history
Remember that time you ruined Veganuary by stumbling into Chicken Cottage at 3am? Google also remembers.
Again, to find the stored info you’ll need to head to your data and personalisation page, then you just need to scroll down to the Timeline option. This handy tool lets you search where you’ve been for the last several years.
If you’re not keen on Google following your movements across the globe, you can turn tracking off by unticking the Location History boxes in Activity Controls.
Your YouTube history
Google also tracks what you’re watching on YouTube. This is one of the ways in which the company builds a profile for you, as your viewing habits give the company a good insight into things like interests, hobbies, sense of humour, and even your parental status.
All of your YouTube history is bundled up in My Activity, along with your general search habits. As with the above tools, you can stop Google tracking this by unticking the relevant YouTube boxes under My Activity here.
Your ad preferences
By far the creepiest thing about Google gathering this information is how it uses this data.
Thanks to all the info that you’re spilling all the time, Google can create an eerily accurate personalised ad profile, which you can see under your Ad Personalisation tab. This tracks your hobbies, relationship-status, political preferences and religion to boot.
Luckily, it’s super easy to turn off – just toggle the option at the top of the Ad Personalisation page.
Want to download e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g?
If you want the full whack of data, you can request it all via Google’s Take Out. This can take days to compile, if Google has a significant amount of data on you. And let’s face it, it probably does.
Doing this will reveal what calendar info, emails, flight reservations, payment details, photos, and ad-click data Google has stored.
Google provides its own details on how to manually delete account activity here – but it’s worth pointing out that the company says this:
“Even when activity is deleted, some data about your use of Google services may be kept for the life of your Google Account.”