How To Find Out (& Delete) What Google Knows About You

Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
Google can help you diagnose mystery medical symptoms, quickly turn your photos into GIFs, give you a virtual Olympic tour, and even explain to shell-shocked, internet-searching residents of the United Kingdom what, exactly, Brexit actually is. But while the search giant is doing all of that, it's also quietly chronicling your every online move within its myriad products and services in order to create a personal profile about you. What does it do with that? Distribute personalized ads, of course. (Your move, Orwell.)

Curious what information, exactly, the search giant has saved about you? Now, thanks to a new tool called My Activity, you can take a peek at your very own Google-compiled digital tracks, so to speak.

Your activity page will now allow you to see a timeline of websites you visited, complete with links, as well as things you have looked up in Google’s search engine or the Google Play app store, places found in Google Maps, and videos watched on YouTube. Because Google is first and foremost a search company, a My Activity search box also allows you to look for specific things in your cluttered timeline and filter said searches by date or by a specific Google product, like YouTube.

The best part is, if you don't like what you find, you can get rid of it rather simply, explains The Daily Dot. To begin, just access your Google account history by going to myaccount.google.com and clicking on "My Activity." You'll then be able to select and delete specific items from your Google history by both day as well as specific result. Just tap on the three-dot menu to the right of each group to see details and delete items as needed.

Want to get rid of it all? Click the three-dot menu at the top-right corner of your My Activity page and select "Delete activity by." Then, select "All time." Poof! Your Google-chronicled past will disappear, supposedly forever. Once deleted from your activity history, the data will no longer be used by Google as part of your profile in any capacity...with one small, but important, catch: My Activity only shows data for the device you are on at the time, which means to clear your Google history in its entirity, you'll have to repeat the process on tablets and phones, too.

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