INTERNET

‘My Activity’ Reveals What Google Knows About You

A new tool lets you see—and delete—your online activity according to date, product, and topic

INTERNET
A Google search page is seen through a magnifying glass. — REUTERS
Jun 30, 2016 at 6:51 AM ET

If you just watched a YouTube video, searched for the latest Brexit news, or booked your summer vacation, Google knows. Now, there’s a tool that let’s you easily see what exactly the tech giant has tracked about your online activity—and lets you delete that information according to date, topic, and Google product.

Google rolled out the new feature, called ‘My Activity,’ this week. It gives a detailed breakdown of the data the company collects about your digital activity on YouTube, Chrome, Google Maps, and other platforms. “My Activity is the central place where you can find everything you have searched, viewed, and watched using our services,” Google says.

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The tool lets you dig into your online history by searching by specific topics, products, or dates, although it’s unclear how far back the tool lets you go. The feature also lets you “permanently delete specific activities or even entire topics that you don’t want associated with your account,” according to Google.

But erased activity won’t completely vanish. While the items you choose to delete are “permanently deleted” from your Google account, the company “may keep service-related information about your account, like which Google products you used and when to prevent spam and abuse and to improve our services,” Google says.

If that freaks you out, you may want to review your privacy settings. Under the “Personal info & privacy” section of your Google account, click “Manage your Google Activity” and then a button that reads “Go to Activity Controls.” There, you can stop the company from saving your web and app activity.