But now it’s time to turn our attention to Google to see what kind of data they are collecting and sharing. It would also be a good idea to look into how to control your own Google account Privacy settings.
Checking out what data Google has collected:
Unlike Facebook Google has made it a lot simpler to know what they gather on you and how they use it. They also show you how to control your Privacy using your “Google My Account”, everything is there for you to look over and change your settings. But before we get into that, let’s take a look at what they do gather.
To get the whole picture you should take a few minutes and check out their privacy page where you can see what they gather and how they use it to give you a better experience.
Below we will be covering the basics of what Google is collecting on you and how to manage that data.
Here are three main types of data they collect.
Things you do:
When you use their service like doing a search, directions on Google Maps, and even when you watch a YouTube video. They gather this information to help in making a better user experience when using their services. This will include.
- IP address and cookies
- Ads you click on
- Websites you visit and your search queries
- Your location and device information.
Things you Create:
When you are signed into your Google account they store the things you create which they protect and keep private. This can include.
- The emails you send and receive using Gmail.
- Your contacts you add to your account.
- Your data in Docs, Sheets, and Slides on Google Drive.
- Videos and Photos that you upload
- And your calendar
The Things about you:
This is the basic information you enter when you signed up which include.
- Your name
- Gender and Birthday
- Email address and phone #
- The country you live in
Running a Security Checkup and Privacy Checkup:
Now that you have an idea of what they are collecting we can go in and make changes to our account to make it more private. And if you want to get a good overall view of what Google and Facebook have on you I recommend reading this article in the Guardian. “All the data Facebook & Google has on you”
The first thing we going to do is to run a Security Checkup along with a Privacy Checkup before we get too far into changing any settings.
To do this log into your “My Account” page and sign in if you’re not already. If you have multiple accounts set up you will want to select the account you want to work on located in the upper-right corner of the screen.
Now click on “Get Started” under “Security Checkup”, you will see a pop-up with your security states showing you what needs to be fixed with a yellow exclamation maker and what is good to go with a green check mark.
Be sure to click on the ones that need to be fixed and follow the instructions on how to correct the problem. It is also a good idea to click on the others to see if there is something you would like changed. Below is a list of what you will see.
- Your Devices: Here you will get a list of all the devices that are connected to your account. If you don’t recognize a device you will be asked to change your password to prevent that device from further access to your account.
- Recent Activity: This will show you any unusual security events like a sign-in from a new device or any changes to your account settings.
- 2-Step Verification: This will show you the ways you have set up to verify after you have entered your password.
- Third-party Access: Here you will see a list of apps that have a low-risk access to your data. If you see an app that you don’t trust you can remove the access to that app.
A Further look into Two-Step Verification:
This is one that is important to use if you wish to keep your data private, actually, I highly recommend you use this so if someone does get a hold of your password they will not be able to get in without the next step.
To turn this on if you haven’t already, click on the 2-Step Verification tab and then click “2-Step Verification Settings”. You will then be asked for your password which will take you a page where you can turn it on and select your methods of a second verification step. Such as the “Google prompt” which is set to default.
Once activated this will display a notice on your phone asking if you are trying to log into your account if you are tape on “Yes”, if not “No”. It’s also a good idea to add extra settings like an Authenticator app and “Voice or text message” to a backup phone #.
When you are done with your Security checkup click on the “Continue to My Account” at the bottom and then select “Get Started” under “Privacy Checkup”. Click on the “Start Now” to get started. There will be six sections for you to review and make changes to how Google uses your data. Starting at the top with number 1.
#1. Manage what you Share on YouTub:
- Likes and subscriptions: Here you can manage how your liked videos, saved playlists, and your subscriptions are shared, private or public.
- Your YouTube activity feed: You can choose to have your activity post to your feed automatically or not at all. Anything that you have selected above to be private will never be shared.
- Playlist Privacy: As the owner of your playlist you have the option to make them public, private, or unlisted. These can be changed at any time.
#2. Manage your Google Photos Settings:
Here you have the option to auto-group your photos by matching faces which will make it easier to share, manage, and search for them. You can also select to have them grouped by matching the faces for better search. And you can turn on or off the geolocation of your shared links.
#3. Help People connect with you:
You can choose to let the people that have your phone # to be able to find and connect with you on Google services like video chats. You get two choices, help the ones with your number connect with you on Google service, and help them find your name, photo, and any other information you have made visible on Google. You can also edit your phone numbers here.
#4. Choose what Google+ profile information you share with others:
- You get to decide who can see your information and what information you want to be made public or private.
- When you view your profile page you will see a few tabs below your cover photo where you can choose to let visitors see these tabs or not. The tabs are Photos, YouTube / Videos, Your + 1, and Reviews.
- It would be a good idea to click on the link “Edit what others see about you” and make any changes to your Personal contact info, Gender, birthdays, Places lived, and So on that you want private, public, or delete altogether.
- Edit Your Shared Endorsements Choose whether or not Google can display your reviews, recommendations, and other activities for the products and services.
#5. Personalize your Google experience:
This is used to provide a better commute option in Maps and quicker search results when you allow Google to store your activity data. This data is only seen by you, and it is not shared with anyone else. There are six options you can turn on or off. Each of these will have a link which reads “Manage Activity” where you will have different options to choose from.
- Web & App Activity: Save your search activity on apps and in browsers to make them faster and more customized along with Maps, Now, and other Google products.
- Location History: Saving you a private map of where you go with your signed-in device will provide improved map searches, commute routes, and more.
- YouTube Search History: You can store your YouTube searches to make your further searches faster with better recommendations for other videos.
- YouTube Watch History: This will help make it easier to find you’re recently watched videos.
- Device Information: This will store your contacts, apps, calendars, and other data to improve your experience with Google.
- Voice & Audio Activity: This helps Google to recognize your voice like when using “OK Google”.
By clicking the down arrow next to all of these will open it up further with more explanation and where you can turn them on or off. You will also notice a Link called “Manage Activity” where you will see a list of that activity and the options, one which will allow you to delete the activity.
I will go into further explanations about viewing and deleting your activity below.
#6. Make ads more relevant to you.
By clicking on the “Manage Your Ads Settings” link at the bottom of the explanation you will be able to adjust your interests in what type of ads that are more relevant to you. You can opt out of these, but you are still going to see ads.
After all, this is how Google makes its money so you might as well tailor the adds that are delivered to you by fine-tuning your interests.
Sign-in & Security:
This is the next thing you should consider reviewing and updating especially your Passwords! So got back to your main page in “My Account” and under “Sign-in & Security” click on “Signing into Google”. Here you will see your “Password & sign-in method” box where Google shows you when your password was changed last, when you set-up 2-Step Verification, and your App passwords.
Now if your like most people you have never change your password, and all I can say is shame on you. All Passwords should be changed every six months, even I have had a hard time doing this. So don’t beat yourself up too badly. 😊
Now let’s get those passwords changed by clicking on the arrow (>), you will be asked for your password to continue (which is a good thing!) Make sure you make it a good one that no one would know if you need help coming up with a good strong password visit my post on “The importance of Passwords” where I show you an easy way to come up with a strong 10 character password that is easy to remember.
Once you have set a new password Google will ask you to take a minute to review your recovery info and security settings, no need to do this because we have already gone over this at the start.
If you have any App passwords now would be a good time to change those this will be a list of the apps, websites, or devices that you connect with using your Google account. Personally, I would delete any of these, you can always sign into them later with a different password instead of using your Google account.
If you have been using Google to save your Passwords to other sites they will show up here. I personally don’t use this because it’s just one more thing that someone else could get a hold of if there was ever a data breach with Google. For keeping track of all my password I use Dashlane Password Manager, it is very secure and safe, you can read more about it here.
Now if you do have saved passwords you should review them here and delete the ones you don’t recognize or ones that are duplicate. If you wish not to use this service you can turn off the “Smart Lock for Passwords” and Google will stop asking you if you wish to save a password.
View your Activity and Delete your History:
If you would like to see the whole picture of your activity in one place head on back over to your “My Account” and under “Personal info & Privacy” at the bottom click on “Go to MY Activity”, you will be presented with an endless list of Everything you have done that is related to Google.
To delete any or all of this select “Delete activity by” from the left panel, you will then be presented with a page where you can select to delete by date, which includes “Today, Yesterday, Last 7 days, Last 30 days, or All time”. Also, you can select the month and products.
Download your Data:
Should you want to download a copy of your Data so you can view all the data that Google has collected on you since you first signed up by going to “takeout.google.com”. You will be presented with a page of around 35 topics to choose from, select the ones you want, then click “Next” and you will see a page where you can choose the “File type”, Archive size (max)” and “Delivery method”.
When your ready click “Create Archive” you will then be told that it may take a long time, this could be hours or even days, all depending on how active you have been. When this is done Google will then email you with the link to download your data.
There you have it, everything you could possibly want to know about Google, your Privacy, Security settings, and the Data collected, Along with how to view, delete, and download that data. If you would like you can go to your “Google Dashboard” and get an even bigger picture of your Data and manage it all from there.
The two things you should do above all else is to at least run The Security Checkup and Privacy Checkup.
What are your thoughts on this, are you going to run these checkups, what about deleting your data?