Using Google’s New Privacy Features
At the risk of stating the obvious… Google collects and stores an incredible amount of user data. Browser history and activity, video viewing habits, location information, purchases, email, and so much more. All of this is stored and analyzed for advertising purposes.
The search engine giant allows users of its browser to manually change their settings and delete their browsing history on-demand. Most people are either unaware of this or simply don’t take the time to do so. As a result, Google may be storing their information indefinitely.
In 2019, Google introduced a setting that automatically deletes your browsing and app history, but, once again, these settings weren’t the default, and many users likely didn’t even know they existed. Google announced in late June 2020 that these settings would be enabled by default.
“We believe that products should keep your information for only as long as it’s useful and helpful to you,” wrote CEO Sundar Pichai in an official blog post. “We continue to challenge ourselves to do more with less, and today we’re changing our data retention practices to make auto-delete the default for our core activity settings.”
If you’re creating a new Google account, the default settings will automatically delete your web and location history every 18 months. If you’d like your history scrubbed more frequently, you can schedule deletion every 3 months by going into your account settings as described below. Also, If you’re an existing user, you’ll have to go into your settings and set your preferences, because they won’t be changed.
Changing Your Google Settings On Desktop Or Laptop
Sign in to your Google account.
At the welcome page, in the ‘Privacy & Personalization’ section, click on “manage your data & personalization”.
When the ‘Data & Personalization’ page comes up, click on ‘Web & App Activity,’ ‘Location History,’ or ‘YouTube History’ to move to the ‘Activity Controls’ page for each one.
At ‘Activity Controls,’ choose the ‘Auto-delete’ option and select the one you prefer.
You can choose to auto-delete your data after 3 months, 18 months, or keep it to manual deletion only (which means Google will hold onto your data until you clear it out yourself).
Hit ‘Next’ and then ‘Confirm’.
Google will let you know how much will be deleted now as a result of your selection.
After that, your preferences will be saved and your stored data should automatically delete at regular intervals.
You can go back to the ‘Data & Personalization’ page to set up auto-delete for your other activities (such as YouTube), or you can hit the handy dandy ‘See all activity controls’ to bring up your other activities on the same page.
Changing Your Google Settings With A Mobile Device
One easy way to access your Google account on mobile is through the Gmail app. Sign in to your Gmail as usual, then tap your profile pic in the upper right corner. Select ‘Manage your Google Account’ to move to the Google Account screen.
The page you land on should look similar to the computer version, and the steps are the same. Tap ‘Privacy & Personalization,’ choose an activity to manage, and select ‘Auto-delete’ when the ‘Activity Controls’ page comes up.
Rinse and repeat for multiple Google accounts.
The auto-delete features are but one of a few small changes Google is making to help protect the privacy of its users.
Check your settings and gain control of your personal data.