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How to stop Google from collecting your private information



Pedestrians walk past the Google headquarters in New York.

Jeenah Moon | Reuters

Google knows a lot about you.

I recently showed you how much information it stores about your location and how to turn it off. But there's much more, including everything you've ever searched for, every YouTube video you've ever seen, your voice recordings, computers and phones you use to access Google and more.

Google has a tool that lets you see what information it collects and makes it easy to turn off the collection of this type of private information. It also lets you delete this information individually.

Remember that beating some of this can affect your experience. For example, if Google doesn't know the YouTube videos you see, it won't know how to recommend videos similar to those you like. If it doesn't know your location, you may not be able to properly use any Google Maps features. If you do not share your voice, Google Home or Google Assistant may not always respond when you want it to.

How to Use Google's Privacy Policy Tool

Google Privacy Control Tool

Google

  • First visit https://myaccount.google.com/privacycheckup/. This is the main page you want to work from in this manual.
  • If you haven't already signed in to your Google Account,
  • Now move through each category, such as web and app activity, YouTube search history, and location history.
  • Click "Manage" below each to see how Google uses your information and turn off any part you don't want to collect.
  • Then, select the "Create ads that are more relevant to you."
  • Turn off "Ad fit" off. This means that Google does not target ads based on the interests that it knows you have from using other tools, such as Search or YouTube.
  • Now tap on "Check what others see about you."
  • Click "Edit your shared recommendation setting," and turn it off. This prevents reviews for places like restaurants or apps from appearing on the Google Play Store or Google Maps.
  • Now tap on "Help people connect to you." I leave this because I like people to search for me via video chat and other Google apps, but you can turn this off here.
  • Now select "Manage your Google Photo settings." Here you can turn off Google's ability to recognize your face. This is used if people snap photos of you and upload them to Google Photos, which can automatically recognize friends and family and create albums. If you don't want people to do this, turn it off. I put it on, since I like it.
  • Click "Manage what you share on YouTube." I turn everything off so people can't see my playlists or when I like or dislike a video.
  • Finally, go here: https://myaccount.google.com/data-and-personalization. This allows you to turn off the information Google collects about using the services, such as the YouTube search history, voice prompts, your location, and more. I leave myself because I always test Google's services and like the recommendations, but you should turn them off if you are concerned about privacy.

Google's activity controls

Todd Haselton | CNBC

That's it. After completing the steps above, you have performed a large portion of the management required to stop Google from collecting any of the data it can access while using the services.


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