Like Facebook, Google makes most of its money from selling ads, and like FB one way Google tries to make the ads more effective is by tracking what you do online.
Google tracks what you do in Gmail, in Chrome, on Youtube, and what you search for via Google.com, and Facebook is almost as bad (its tracking cookies follow you around the web). But one key way these two tech giants differ is that Google will let you delete the data it collected on you, and you can even block Google from tracking you altogether.
Here’s how you can do that.
Google has created a single site where you can examine the data it has collected on you. You can browse the data, delete it, and even block Google from tracking you in the future. Of course, this won’t have any effect on data Google may have gathered from other sources (for example, data traded from other tech companies), but it does give you some control over the data Google collects.
That site is called My Activity.
To start with, you can control where Google tracks you in “Activity controls”. You can decide, for example, to let Google track you in Youtube while keeping it from recording your device information.
Your other options include Location History, Web & App History, Voice & Audio Activity, and more.
Once you’ve decided which parts of your life you don’t want Google to track, the next decision is whether you want to wipe your Google history.
You can do that from the delete menu.
I deleted everything.
I don’t know if that history will stay deleted, but I am reasonably convinced you can stop Google tracking you.
When I sat down to write this post, I found out why the Google-served adverts had been so lacking in relevance to me for so many years; I had apparently turned off Google’s tracking years ago, and forgot about it.
Google is not collecting data on me, and this was made very obvious last year when I started using Facebook more. I immediately noticed how closely the ads matched by browsing activity, and the reason i noticed is that ads served by Google were never that relevant. For years now I had no idea what people were talking about when they would mention how they had looked up a product and then been served an advert for that product; this had honestly didn’t use to happen to me.
And as soon as I figure out how to block FB’s trackers, it will stop happening.