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Ashley Poole

- Speaker -
- Senior Software Developer -
- Co-organiser of @ShropshireDevs -
- Site Reliability Engineering Advocate -

Taking back control of your history stored with Google... Well partially!

We live in a world where the terms like big data are now easily thrown around and where we’re given multi page user agreements when using any online services. Now let’s be frank, no average consumer is going to read those lengthy user agreements yet alone understand them. Rest assured though, they normal include statements about the fact your data is no longer yours and that these companies can use it for their evil bidding like feeding their data hungry machines bent on world domination.

Google is no exception, in fact they’re one of the largest along with Amazon in my opinion, with Google’s main revenue stream generated by advertising but not just any advertising, relevant advertising personalised to the individual. Google achieves this by using a multitude of data sources from across their services to create a personal data model on individuals which is then used to show and target relevant advertising to yourself.

Disclaimer - I personally use the Google Adsense service which allows Google to place adverts on my website in turn for a percentage of the revenue they make off them. Now I want to point out I’m not using Adsense to make a small fortune far from it and for example I’ve only made about £3.04 in a year but I instead implemented Adsense as I was curious of how it worked.

Now I’ve gone slightly off topic here but the main point I was trying to make is that big companies like Google collect vast amounts of information on us. In Google’s case, data is collected when we use their services such as Gmail, Google Maps, Youtube and Chrome.

Google however provides an easy to use Account History management page where you can delete your history for the following services or elements of the services:

  • Google Search
  • Google Location
  • YouTube Searches
  • YouTube Watch

Google Account History [Google Account History Screen.]

There is also links which allow you to alter your settings for Google+, Search and Ads. As part of the Ads settings, you can also opt out of personalised advertising.

The Google Location History (“Place you’ve been”) was of particular interest to myself as I had discovered my location data went as far back as my last Nexus purchase, over 2 years ago! Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not naive about Google and that they are constantly gathering data, I just didn’t expected it to be stored for quite so long.

Anyway, I recommend you go and check out your history across Google’s services even if you don’t have the intention of clearing it out!

Posted on general with tags: google

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