Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY explains how you can make Google, Facebook, and Amazon stop tracking you on the Web.
Curious to see how much a sprawling Internet company knows about your likes, history and moves? Download your Google data.
This is the week in which many of us took a closer look at our Facebook data, reminding us that we gave the social network incredible access to our likes, thoughts, movements and friends.
But Google keeps track of our lives as more and more people use Google for many other days – including email, calendars, web browsers, and the Android operating system with 85 percent market share, according to Market Tracker IDC.
Many of us have used Google over Facebook, and thanks to the hugely popular services like Google Maps and Waze, Google can keep track of every single step. But the variety of Google apps and products (including YouTube video site # 1) means you may know more about them than you may know.
I downloaded the Google data this week. Here is what I found.
Start with https://takeout.google.com/settings/takeout.
Google Account Download Page (Photo: Screenshot)
This is Google's data download page, where Google displays all the different units of the business. With Google, you can choose to download the data from all categories from the Google universe, or you'd like to proceed in a piecemeal way.
You can choose from calendars (dates I had), Chrome (my searches), Google Drive (my saved uploads), location history (wherever I went or asked for Google Maps), play music (which songs)
Gmail is not on the list, but the application saves your emails unless you've deleted them to make room. Last year Google said it will no longer target your emails to ads.
You have the option of receiving the download via an email link or archiving it to Google Drive. However, this will be charged with your storage quota, Google Notes. (I'm subscribing to a 1TB backup and it's already 750GB full, so I opted for the partial download.)
But it's worth it to see all the information about Google and wait a few seconds to get it all done Clear .
Google notes that the download may take hours or even days to complete the request, depending on how active a Google user is.
Downloading data from Google (Photo: Screenshot)
My device arrived at Gmail in a few hours. After unpacking the files, most of them are categorized into clear English and go way back – mine after 2009.
The list contained everything from the Mundschen (a voice request on Google Home to solve 6 * 12.50) that I was Prince on Google Play last week, watched a James Corden clip on YouTube and every Google search, both publicly and anonymously in incognito mode.
The last piece of history was a surprise. Google informs users that the search in incognito mode means that "Chrome will not save your browsing history" and basic browsing history information such as URLs, cached page text or IP addresses of pages that are linked by the websites you visit.
We have reached Google for comment, but have not heard it yet.
So, if Google stores your data, even if you do not think it's possible, here's a hint: Delete
How to Delete:
Go to Google My Activity
From there you can use Google to choose what to delete. The process is awkward. You select a date (today, this week, this month, all time) and the category (eg Google Chrome).
Select your date, press Enter, and see how everything disappears. Google says that deleting the data means less effective and faster searches. I'm deleting searches for years and Google is still lightning fast for me.
Irish Web Developer Dylan Curran was shocked by his findings when he looked at what Google had about him. He tweeted his reaction in a 37-tweet Tweet storm that was widely read with 4,400 comments and 160,000 retweets.
Curran was beside himself that Google had kept his location and his search history of the Chrome browser, the names of the files he backed up on Google Drive, and even those he deleted, along with every website he visited on Google that dates back more than 10 years.
"They collect much more information than people would know," he told us.
Irish Web developer Dylan Curran [Photo: Courtesy: Dylan Curran]
We spoke with Curran for a #TalkingTech podcast (click the audio below to view where Curran called for a "Digital Expiration Act" to be enacted by lawmakers.
This is a fair compromise, he says. "There is no reason for companies to hold on to our information for more than two to three years, and my information from ten years ago is not relevant to any ad I'm looking at," he says.
Curran has a legitimate point. Google services would not be what they are without the information we give the company, but 10 years is overkill.
Facebook's data dump was more enlightening to me (why do they keep my friends' addresses and phone numbers?), Google was not.
In return for Google reminding me of upcoming trips, showing me my boarding passes, and even creating routes for me without asking, Google has been following my every step since its beginnings in the late 1990s, and so am I in order to.
I can not imagine living without Google Docs, which allows me to do everything I do for free and have online access to the files no matter what computer I have. Calendar reminds me very well of what's on my agenda, with updates via smartphone, computer and tablet. I love the fact that every iPhone photo I've taken is automatically saved in Google Photos, and I can use Google Photos to search for old photos from my old Mazda car to an ice cream cone in Venice.
And do not let me start with Google Maps and Waze. An extension of my body!
By searching my emails and tracking my searches, Google has improved my life. I would not work with Cold Turkey on Google, and I doubt it would be a Talking Tech spokesman.
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