Google is probably following you, but you can stop it

It’s scary when someone knows where you are without you telling them, and it’s just as scary when a company does. If you use one of Google’s apps on your iPhone or Android device, the company may know your location. Although your Google Account location history is turned off by default, there may be other culprits. Some Google apps may be store your location with a timestamp.

After a 2018 investigation by the Associated Press, Google added features to make it easier to control location and other data saved, and what gets deleted with features like Your Data in Maps and Search, which give you quick access to your location controls.

However, Google has been sued by multiple states in January due to its use of location data. The lawsuits alleged that Google made it “almost impossible” for people to prevent their location from being tracked. Google defended itself against the charges, saying the claims were inaccurate and based on outdated claims from its settings.

The good news is that there are settings you can check to make sure Google isn’t tracking you. We’ll explain how to opt out of Google tracking and what the results will be.

Disable Google location tracking

Here’s how to stop Google from saving your location.

1. Open Google.com on your desktop or mobile browser and sign in to your Google account using the button in the upper right corner.

2. Select your user icon in the upper right corner and select Manage your Google account.

3. Select Privacy and personalization.

4. Below The things you’ve done and the places you’ve been select Location history inside of History settings box. This opens Activity checks.

5. Under Location Storyselect the button on the right that says Switch off. This opens a pop-up window.

6. Scroll down this window and select Pause.

Turning off Location History only removes where you’ve been from Google Maps’ Timeline feature, which records your location along with certain data at a specific time. Google’s support page for this says that even when turned off, “some location data may continue to be recorded in other settings,” like your web and app activity. Google told us that it uses this data to make features more personalized and useful, and that this information is never shared with third parties or advertisers. But if you’re still not comfortable with this, with a few extra steps you can stop Google knowing where you are 24/7.

Google Maps logo on a phone

Prevent Google from storing your locations from Maps.

Angela Lang/CBS

What prevents Google from storing?

Suspending this setting prevents Google from storing location markers associated with specific actions and stops storing information collected from searches or other activity. If you turn it off, your approximate location remains private, and other places you go, like your home address.

Note that to effectively use certain features, like the Maps app, Google will still need access to your location. However, performing the above steps prevents it from storing any future activity. When Google timestamps your activity in a general area, it spans over 1 square mile with typically over 1,000 users to protect privacy. Google’s help page for this says it helps them detect unusual activity, such as logging in from another city, while maintaining privacy.

However, you can allow Google to use your precise location (your exact location, such as a specific address) to get the best search results where you are.

Advantages and disadvantages of disabling Google tracking

Disabling this default setting has some drawbacks. While Google’s settings may seem intrusive to some, they also help cultivate an ultra-personalized online experience, like helping people find nearby businesses instead of those in another city, or seeing personalized ads . They help give users more relevant information instead of random information, according to Google.

Disabling tracking means that you will see less relevant advertisements, less useful search recommendations, and an overall less personalized experience using the search engine and its applications and services. For those who like personalized ads, opting out of tracking will prevent Google from predicting what might interest you. However, for those who value privacy above all else, disabling this setting may be worth the loss of specificity.

The bottom line: You may lose your privacy and lose the personalized Internet experience, or continue to see relevant ads and search suggestions instead of more random, unfiltered information.

Delete Old Location History

Disabling tracking will prevent Google from storing new location information, but it will not delete any previously collected data. Here’s how to delete this information.

1. Open Google.com on your desktop or mobile browser and sign in to your Google account using the button in the upper right corner.

2. After logging in, select your user icon in the upper right corner and select Manage your Google account.

3. Select Privacy and personalization.

4. Below The things you’ve done and the places you’ve been select Location history inside of History settings box. This opens Activity checks.

5. Select Manage history near the bottom of the page. This opens a map with a timeline in the upper left corner. The map shows where you have been and the timeline shows where you were at what time.

6. To delete your location on a certain date, select the date in the timeline. This date will then be displayed below the timeline. Select the waste icon to the right of the date. In the pop-up window, select Delete day.

seven. To delete all of your location history at once, select the icon waste icon near bottom right corner of map near icon Map and Satellite display option.

8. In the pop-up window, select the box that says I understand and want to delete all location history. Select Delete location history.

Prevent Google from collecting your web and app activity

When you create a new Google Account, Google minimizes the amount of data it collects by default only keeping 18 months of web and app activity – anything older than that is automatically deleted. Here’s how to stop Google from collecting your future web and app activity.

1. Open Google.com on your desktop or mobile browser and sign in to your Google account using the button in the upper right corner.

2. After logging in, select your user icon in the upper right corner and select Manage your Google account.

3. Select Privacy and personalization.

4. Below The things you’ve done and the places you’ve beenselect Web and app activity inside of History settings box. This opens Activity checks.

6. Select Switch off under Web & App Activity.

seven. Scroll down the pop-up window and select Pause.

8. Select I understood.

Automatically delete your location and activity history

You can also automatically delete your Google location and activity history if you prefer to have your history automatically deleted at certain intervals. Here’s how.

1. Open Google.com on your desktop or mobile browser and sign in to your Google account using the button in the upper right corner.

2. After logging in, select your user icon in the upper right corner and select Manage your Google account.

3. Select Privacy and personalization.

4. Below The things you’ve done and the places you’ve been select Web and app activity Where Location History inside of History settings box. This opens Activity checks for the setting you want to change.

6. Select Choose an automatic deletion option below Automatic deletion.

seven. Select the desired period (3 months, 18 months Where 36 months) from Automatically delete activity older than scrolling menu.

8. Select Next.

9. Select I understood.

Delete all your Google web and app activity

Even if you blocked Google from collecting your web and app activity, Google still has your data from before. Here’s how to delete your previous web and app activity.

1. Open Google.com on your desktop or mobile browser and sign in to your Google account using the button in the upper right corner.

2. Once logged in, click on your user icon in the upper right corner and select Manage your Google account.

3. Click on Privacy and personalization.

4. Below The things you’ve done and the places you’ve been select Web and app activity inside of History settings box. This opens the Activity checks.

5. Select Manage everything Web and app activity near the bottom of the screen.

6. Below Find your activityClick on Wipe off on the right.

seven. The new window will display options to delete your Web and app activity from Last hour, Last day, All the time or one Custom range. Select All the time.

8. A new window will open asking you to confirm that you want to delete your activity, which will be displayed. Select Wipe off.

9. Select I understood.

To learn more, find out how to see if Google is following youhow much data Google collects and how hide where you go from Maps. You can also automatically delete your Google history
.

About Yvonne Lozier

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