However, they also announced that they would be sharing information on users from one property to another. So, if you turn on your location settings on your Android phone, a Google search will show you relevant ads for things in your area. If you watch a YouTube video on skateboarding, Google might show you more ads for skate shops.
With their e-mail service Gmail, YouTube, web search, their new social network G+, their Chrome web browser, their smart phone operating system Android, and all of the other tools Google has available, they are now poised to be able to tell everything about you. For some, that’s an unsettling thought – no matter how much it improves the Google experience.
What isn’t widely known is that you can shut all of this off in your Google account’s privacy settings. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
1. Log into Google.
2. Go to http://www.google.com/history
3. Click on the, “Remove all Web History” button. This will both clear the search information Google has already collected on you, and it will pause their collection of your history. You should see the words, “Web History is paused” above this once you’re done.
Next, you’ll want to turn off the collection of data in YouTube as well. So…
4. Go to http://www.youtube.com/my_videos. Since you just logged into Google before, you should be logged into YouTube as well when you get here. If not, go ahead and log in then come back to this link.
5. Click on the “History” tab. You will likely see a list of the videos you’ve called up on YouTube recently.
6. Click on the button, “Clear all viewing history.” If you refresh your screen, you should see that your viewing history is now gone.
7. Click on the “Pause viewing history” to make sure it doesn’t start collecting this information again.
8. If you want to see the rest of your YouTube privacy settings, just go to http://www.youtube.com/account_privacy and set them there.
You may want to turn off Google’s ability to share relevant ads with you. After all, if they don’t have your permission to target you with ads, they won’t bother going through your history data.
9. Go to https://www.google.com/settings/ads/onweb
10. Click on the, “Opt out” button.
Finally, if you use the Chrome browser, there is a plug-in you can install that will keep all of your opt-out settings in place. It seems odd that you would need to specifically tell Google not to change your preferences in the future, but as long as they think it’s an issue, so do I. So here’s what you’ll want to do:
I grant you, this is all a response for those who may be more paranoid than normal about a company like Google collecting their personal data. Many people don’t seem to mind this. They should feel free to not do any of this, and see if their Google experience is improved by allowing companies to see their interests.
For the rest, going through these simple steps will give you some peace of mind if you continue to use Google.