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How Can Google Track You and How To Stop Google Tracking

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Stop Google Tracking

Browsing the internet without Google tracking has become essential because of the growing security concerns. This is no hidden truth that Google knows a lot about your browsing habits. The search engine keeps tabs on everything you do while using its apps, services, and devices. Most of us don’t even realize how far Google’s track extends. Google knows all the details from the places you visit, the things you like, and your purchases. 

There are a few benefits of Google tracking. For instance, the tech giant collects information to enhance the performance of its tools and services so you can enjoy a more personalized experience. However, Google has been sued several times for sharing users’ data with third parties, increasing the urge to prevent Google tracking.  

How Can Google Track You?

Google tracks your data and activities so they can target you with advertisements and improve your user experience. Though there are several ways Google uses to track you, the most common ones are as follows:

1. Google Searches

Google’s most popular tool is its search engine which gives the most relevant and trusted search results. But it is also the one that tracks and collects your data. The search engine uses cookies to track your browsing activities. The data collected by Google includes search results, browsing history, content you view, location data, interaction with other sites, and apps that use the Google platform. 

The collected information is used to give you a more personalized user experience, improve the existing services, and create new ones.

2. Google Maps

Google Maps is another way through which Google tracks its users. A Google Timeline option on Google Maps tells about search activities, so the search giant knows about your search behavior from here. Besides this, it syncs images posted on Google Photos, giving Google more access to your data. 

Mobile users who share their location details with others give Google another opportunity to track and gather their data. Google also collects your device’s GPS, IP address, cell towers, Wi-Fi access points, Bluetooth signals, and other sensor data to enjoy an accurate location reading. Also, Google shows ads and optimizes search results depending on your location. 

3. Google Photos

Like Google Maps, Google also tracks your data via Google Photos. It is a cloud storage service that uploads files directly to the company’s database. 

Google syncs all the image information across your device and keeps them updated. Once the images are uploaded to your account, they are automatically processed for facial and object recognition. This way, the information connected with your images is collected. 

4. Google Assistant

The Google-powered AI, virtual assistant tool lets you control your smartphone or home device through voice commands, voice searching, and voice-activated device controls. But in another aspect, it also tracks the users to improve the tool’s speech recognition performance. 

When you use the AI tool, Google pays close attention to small details like language, the country you belong to, searches, and other account-related activities made through the tool. 

No matter how helpful Google tracking can prove to the user. It always gives a sense of privacy abuse and needs to be stopped. 

What Does Google Do With Your Information?

Google knows you better than anyone else. The search engine collects your information through various means, including:

  • IP address
  • Email address
  • Photos
  • Information collected through Google services
  • Browsing history
  • Server log information
  • Search queries
  • Cookies
  • Web browser

Google’s fundamental purpose for tracking a vast amount of information is to deliver relevant search results to users and to improve its products and services. Google collects information that remains anonymous and generally not shared with third parties. But, the collected data is used for marketing purposes that enable marketers to use the database without revealing the real identity of the end customer. 

But with growing privacy concerns, many people are worried about how their data is monitored and shared and looking for steps to prevent it. 

How to Prevent Google Tracking?- Seven Ways

To stop Google from tracking you is not an easy task, but there are a few things that everyone can do to limit the tech giant from tracking your online behavior. By controlling your Google account’s settings, you can easily prevent Google tracking. Below is a step-by-step guide to control Google from tracking you.

1. Turn Off Location Tracking

Turning off the location history will remove the tracebacks you’ve seen from the Google Maps Timeline feature that logs your location and data at a specific time. Turning off this setting prevents Google from recording your location markers associated with particular actions and stops collecting and storing information from searches and other related activities. Here are the steps that you need to follow to turn off location tracking:

  1. Open Google.com on your device and log into your Google account. 
  2. In the right corner, click on the user icon and then choose the option that says Manage your Google Account. 
  3. Click on Privacy & Personalization
  4. Tap on Things that you have done and places you have visited. 
  5. Click on Location History and then open the Activity Controls option. 
  6. Beneath the Location History option, tap on the option that reads Turn off. 
  7. A new pop-up window will appear; scroll down to the bottom and click on Pause. 

Pausing the location history will keep your location private and also other places where you go. 

2. Delete Location History

Pausing location tracking prevents Google from storing new information; however, it won’t delete the data collected. If you want to delete that information, then follow the steps mentioned below:

  1. Open Google.com on your device and log into your Google account. 
  2. After successfully logging into your account, click on the user icon on the right-hand side and select the option that says Manage your Google Account. 
  3. Click on Privacy & Personalization
  4. Click on Things that you have done and places you have visited. 
  5. Click on Location History and then open the Activity Controls option. 
  6. Tap on the Manage History option at the bottom of the page. A map will appear with a timeline that shows all the places you’ve visited and the timeline of where you were at. 
  7. If you want to delete the location for a specific date, click on the date in the timeline. The date will show up below the timeline. Tap the trash icon and click on Delete day in the new pop-up window. 
  8. To delete your entire location history, click on the trash icon. A pop-up window will appear that says I understand and want to delete all location history. 
  9. Mark, it reads and clicks on Delete location history. 

That’s it. Google from next time won’t be tracking your location history. 

3. Control Web and App Activity

If you have a new account, Google keeps your web and app activity data for 18 months. All other previous data is wiped off automatically. If you don’t want Google to store any of your data, then there’s a way out. Follow the steps below to prevent Google from gathering and keeping your web and app activity data. 

  1. Open Google.com on your device and log into your Google account. 
  2. After successfully logging into your account, click on the user icon on the right-hand side and select the option that says Manage your Google Account. 
  3. Click on Privacy & Personalization
  4. Click on Things that you have done and places you have visited. 
  5. Click on Location History and then open the Activity Controls option. 
  6. Under the Web & App Activity option, click on Turn off. 
  7. In the pop-up window, tap on Pause. 
  8. Click on the option that reads Got it.

That’s all. You can now browse the web without worrying that Google will track you. 

4. Automatically Delete Activity and Location History

Google also allows the user to automatically delete the activity and location history at certain intervals. Here’s the step to automatically delete activity and location history. 

  1. Open Google.com on your device and log into your Google account. 
  2. Click on the user icon on the right corner and then choose the option that says Manage your Google Account. 
  3. Click on Privacy & Personalization
  4. Tap on Things that you have done and places you have visited. 
  5. Click on Location History and then open the Activity Controls option. 
  6. Under the Auto-delete category, click on Choose an auto-delete option. 
  7. Now, click on your desired timeframe from the Auto-delete activity option. 
  8. Click on Next and then on Confirm. 

This is how you can automatically delete the activity and location history and avoid the hassle of doing it manually. 

5. Control Google Ads

Google collects information and later targets you with advertisements. Most people don’t know that they can even review and handle the various types of ads that Google shows you. By controlling Google, ads are one possible way to prevent Google tracking. Take advantage of this amazing convenience as you have to go to your Ad setting page and follow the steps below:

  1. At the bottom of the Activity Controls page, click on Ads. 
  2. Turn off the option that says Ads Personalization.

You have now successfully disabled Google from showing personalized ads.

6. Do Privacy Checkups

If you are unsure which Google services are using what information, how much personal information is being shared, or how much information has been collected from search habits. To know the details about your data, simply use Google Privacy Checkup. It is a simple, easy-to-use tool that tells you what is being shared and where. 

It is a handy tool that allows you to personalize your Google experience and ultimately prevents Google tracking. 

7. Browse Privately

Google records your IP address, search terms, websites you visit, your interests, purchasing habits, and a lot more. It also uses tracking cookies to create digital profiles later shared by the third parties who target you with ads. Though this provides good search results, it still violates privacy. Users need to switch to a private search engine instead of using a tech giant like Google. 

The best private search engines maintain users’ privacy by not logging and tracking their data and activities. They provide relevant search results, a user-friendly interface, and various customization options. 

Final Thoughts

Google mainly tracks you via the searches you make and the services and apps you use that it offers, like Google Maps, Google Photos, and Google Assistant. The tech giant Google tracks your activities and even shares them with third parties to ensure a personalized user experience. By having control over your Account settings, one can prevent Google tracking. Still, if you’re unsatisfied and doubt Google, you can start using private search engines and enjoy an anonymous web browsing experience. 

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Rebecca James is an IT consultant with forward thinking approach toward developing IT infrastructures of SMEs. She writes to engage with individuals and raise awareness of digital security, privacy, and better IT infrastructure.

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