Wednesday, May 15, 2019 [Tweets] [Favorites]

My Google Activity

Feross:

Stop what you’re doing and turn on “Auto-delete your Web & App Activity” in your Google account.

Set it to the minimum “Keep for 3 months”.

Once you’ve done that, also turn off as many tracking options as you can here.

In some cases, you can also prevent activity from being saved in the first place. I have everything turned off except for location history, which really improves the experience in the Google Maps app.

7 Comments

Jean-Daniel

We all know that what this option really means is just 'hide the data older than 3 months'.

or, you know, don't have a google account.

Ghost Quartz

I have all the activity controls turned off. When I try to save my home address in Google Maps, it prompts me to enable Web and App Activity history, which “saves the things you do on Google sites, apps, and services, including your searches, interactions with Google partners, and associated information, like location and language.”

I used to find this limitation incredibly frustrating, but it actually makes sense. I’m guessing there aren’t siloed fields in Google Maps for your home and work address. Instead, these addresses are probably data points in the ever-changing set of information Google will collect, infer, and share across all their products. This is the kind of data sharing that enables features that, for example, let your phone remind you to go to the airport solely based on the ticket confirmation you received in Gmail. I’m guessing this also allows them to globally update your home address once they’ve inferred (or you’ve told them) that you’ve moved. Their entire system is designed such that there’s no way for me to just give them my address solely for use in Google Maps.

I don’t think Google will ever be more specific about what they’re collecting and what they do with that information because (1) it’s part of their secret sauce, (2) it probably changes a lot, and (3) it might creep people out.

Anyways, turns out you can just create a list of saved places in Google Maps without enabling Web and App Activity history, which is close enough.

Unpopular opinion: I kind of like having my history available, for a long way back. More than once have I tried to find something I knew I read somewhere only to be disappointed it wasn't in my Google history. The most interesting stuff goes to Pinboard, of course, but I can't do that for every webpage I visit. And for the stuff that I don't want to end up in my history, well, there's inkognito mode a shortcut away.

> I kind of like having my history available, for a long way back. More than once have I tried
> to find something I knew I read somewhere only to be disappointed it wasn't in my Google
> history

I don't think anyone disagrees that this is useful. In fact, that's a large part of why this is such a problem. It's so useful that it's difficult to turn this stuff off, once you got used to it.

I should check what they have on me. Other than my gmail which I only use occasionally, I don't use much of Googles services.

> In fact, that's a large part of why this is such a problem. It's so useful that it's difficult to turn this stuff off, once you got used to it.

Well said! It's the same reason Google has all my mail (i like Gmail/Google Apps) and all my photos (I prefer Google Photos over iCloud Photo Library) as well. Just so damn useful and convenient.

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