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14 eyebrow-raising things Google knows about you

JR Raphael | Dec. 16, 2016
Some are fascinating, others are frightening -- but here's how to find out what Google has on you.

13. A full list of all your activity in the Google Play Store

Google - Play Store activity
Everything you've ever searched for in the Play Store, in one centralized place.

Have you ever looked at or searched for something in the Play Store -- then tried to find it again later, only to realize your memory was worse than your friendly neighborhood squirrel's? I know I have.

So use my trick: The next time you find yourself wishing for a time machine, just scamper over to Google's My Activity page. Filter the results to "Play," and voila: You'll find a full list of every item you've viewed and every Play Store search you've made while signed into your Google account. Now if only this thing had a way to tell me where I buried my acorn the other day...

14. How many YouTube videos you've watched this month

We've all been there: You're in the middle of something extremely productive (naturally) when a single YouTube link happens to catch your eye. Watching one video seems harmless enough, right? But then the inevitable happens: One video turns to two. Wait, what's that in the "Related" section -- a clip of a bird whistling the melody to Guns N' Roses' "Patience"? Click. Watch. Repeat. Before you know it, you're 19 videos in, and the afternoon is over.

Discover just how much YouTube time-whittlin' you've done in the last month (while logged into your Google account) by visiting Google's account dashboard and clicking the "YouTube" header. And for the love of Goog, if your monthly tally is over 200, think long and hard before clicking that next cat-dancing clip.

Opting out and taking control

Want to turn off specific types of data collection or delete existing info from your Google account history? The Google privacy site is the best place to start; there, Google provides detailed information about how each type of data is used along with links to opt out of any specific areas. You can also visit Google's Activity controls page for a simple single-page list of on-off toggles.

If you're looking to clean up your history for anything that Google has been tracking, head to the My Activity site. You can delete any individual item right then and there by clicking the three-dot icon in its upper-right corner and choosing Delete, or click the "Delete activity by" link in the left column for an easy way to erase info based on date and/or product.

Data collection controls can be also found on an Android device by opening the main system settings and selecting Google (or, if you're on an older device, looking for the standalone Google Settings app) and then tapping "Personal info & privacy."

 

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