Aah Facebook! What have you done? It was thanks to you that one could ghost over an ex’s new bae and sleep a good night’s sleep. We could search and know how life goes for the good ol’ school bully. If he gets just desserts from lady karma! You were a secret BFF every girl ever craved. Then you go ahead and mess things up. For all the content that you mined, you have broken the trust of millions.
What saddens even more is that both Google and Facebook seem to be sailing in the same boat. Facebook data mined all our content and sold it to third party apps whereas on the other side of the spectrum Google resides, that stores all our data and acts like an innocent spectator while Facebook is being accused. Did I land in an AU of Heathers?
Google: I’ll Be Watching You (Just So That You Have A Good Time)
Google has been our go to search engine from a long long time. I still remember when it became mainstream and was started being used as a verb. ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, was the first to use it on mainstream media. From that time onwards, it has managed to make its users hooked with its multiple services. When there was a service lacking, it went out of its way and created it. Who can forget how Jennifer Lopez’s Versace dress that she wore in the 2000 Grammy Awards inspired the creation of Google Images. Aah! The good old days!
So how did this seemingly user-friendly service turn into an ideal tracking site? Cause what else can we call it? It tracks its user’s locations, food preferences, third party apps the user has accessed and even the emails that have officially been deleted. Furthermore, all this tracking is not restricted to merely Gmail. Even YouTube keeps a complete data history of your activity. Your searches, your likes and dislikes are all stored. Under the heading of Ads Personalization, they have a small disclaimer that says, “Google adheres to advertising industry privacy standards”.
These so-called standards are only placed so that one can get a better user experience. How else do you think Google manages to mail the predictive text when you enter mere one or two words in its search bar?
So, with a heavy heart, let’s take a firsthand experience on where we stand in relation to the content that Google has stored of us.
1. Google: So, Google is your go to search engine. Well in that case, do we have news for you. Google has stored each and every keyword that you have entered in its bar and you can see it too. Only, keep in mind that one needs to be signed in. Google stores the users search history across all the devices on separate database. When one deletes the search history and phone history, Google still manages to store everything. This happens until the user individually deletes everything on each and every device one has used to access Google. You can check your personal history here:
2. Gmail and Google Drive: Ever tempted to send anyone a stinker? An email filled with so much hatred only to realize at the last minute that it’s better to let things go? Well, you may have deleted the file and sent it to your trash, but it is forever stored in the servers back at Google. What about those letters that you had written to your now Ex? What if they land in your wife’s hand? Things sure are going to go south very fast. To see, one needs to download all the data and content that Google’s Gmail and Drive has of you. Of course, the user needs to be signed in to read the details of the history. Once you are, you can create an archive of it. Click here:
3. Google Maps: This one shocked us the most. Google stores the user’s location (if they have enabled the GPS as ON permanently or even once) every time the phone is switched on. So, it does not matter if you are home or away on a vacation Google Maps tracks your location. It doesn’t stop there. Once a user drives by a famous landmark, be sure to have a notification that asks you to review the place. Woah! One can see a timeline of locations visited from the very first time we switched on the GPS (Location Tracker) on our devices to the present. The window of time when the location (GPS) is switched off, is obviously not registered. Guess one needs to be more alert in this regard. Check out your Data here:
4. YouTube: Aah YouTube! You are the reason my kids speak with a posh British accent. Not due to the training videos but thanks to Peppa Pig! YouTube has helped me in multiple situations with handy tutorials and guides ranging from how to play the Tambourine to making the perfect French Braid. By storing our search history, there is always the fear of its content being shared. Similar to the above-mentioned services, one needs to be signed in to check out the search history here:
Well now that we know that Google too is storing our data. But, the question that arises is what does it intend to do with it and should we delete it?
To answer the first question, Google has a simple policy of storing our data simply to give us a better user experience. They are Google, one of the biggest IT companies in the world. They could have gone on the same path as Facebook chose. But they didn’t. Their attempt of creating a social media platform remained constricted to Hangouts and Google Plus. The data that it stores, is used in predicting our needs better.
As far as the second question is concerned, the only thing we can suggest is that you must delete the content to protect yourself in case of ‘Intruder Access’. The likelihood that your smartphone is stolen, or hacked into, may seem daunting. But, unless the intruder manages to hack in to the main Google Server, your Data/Content shall be safe. But, again the question arises, who is to say whether the content has been deleted from Google’s servers too? Keeping that one risk factor in mind, we shall show you how to delete and download the content that Google has stored of us. Beware that you store this precious data on a secure platform that can be accessed just by you.
Read Also: How Much Google Knows About You?
- Google: Sign in to your Google id. Once done, click on this link On the left-hand side of the screen, click on the option Delete Activity By:
Upon clicking, a new page opens. It has the dates from which to which date one wants to delete the content.
Our suggestion, go slow! Delete couple of months at a time if you are a heavy user or go annually. Once you have set in the date, another window pops up which is a part of the 2 step verification.
Once you click delete, your data is deleted with a small notification that pops on your screen for a matter of seconds at the bottom left corner.
- Gmail and Google Drive: To download the content that is stored, click on this link. First of all deselect all the tabs by clicking on ‘Select None’(If one plans on downloading content of all the application in one go, it can result in a PC that is very slow in working.
Once that is done, select the tab of Gmail. In it, click on ‘Select Labels’. That way you can custom choose all the multiple folders that your email account has.
Click on OK and then scroll down to the end of the page and click on next.
Upon clicking next a new window opens. On it, one sees the options where in one can chose the file format and whether one wants to download it as an email, added in the Dropbox, added on the Drive or OneDrive. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you are a heavy user of the services, then it is better you give a bigger space for the same on your PC. The default size is 2 GB. The minute it exceeds it, a warning notification comes which says that the file may not be accessed by older versions of Windows. So please choose according to your discretion. Once you click on ‘Create’, a new window pops up that informs you that the archive of your data shall take up to a few hours or days depending upon size.
The same process and link can be used for Google Drive.
- Google Maps: This is a tricky one. First, log in. Then click on this link Simply click on the black Trash Can on the right corner of the map.
When you click on it a pop up comes on your screen. Click on the ‘I understand and want to delete all Location History’ box. Once you do so, the Delete Location History Button will activate.
Click on Delete Location History.
Click on OK and you are done. But don’t stop there. Go to Manage History Location that is at the bottom left corner of the screen.
Once that is clicked on, a new window opens. Here is when one needs to pay attention. Turn off the history location. It may say that it is not suggested but stop it first and foremost.
This prevents any future location tracking. Also, remember to turn off the location tab on all the devices and phones that you use.
- YouTube: Sign in to YouTube. Click on this link on the right side of the screen there shall be a menu that breaks down all of your history. Click on ‘Clear All Watch History’.
Next, click on the search History tab. Repeat the process and click on ‘Clear All Search History’.
There you have it. You have successfully deleted your YouTube search history.
Read Also: How to Stop Hackers from Tracking Your Gmail
We may rave and rant that these big corporations are data mining and making a quick buck out of our content but, the reality of the matter is that any social platforms is like a two-edged sword. One can either use it and reap benefits like personalization of searches. Similar to what Google has been doing. Or they can data mine our pages and sell them to third party apps like what Facebook did. The fact of the matter remains the same. They are both here to provide you with their service. It becomes the user’s prerogative if it wants to take that extra second to make sure the settings is to their comfort. Similarly, they can also choose not to access these social platforms. You decide!