Reminder: Turn Off Your Google Web History Today

Starting today, Google’s new unified privacy policy kicks in, meaning that your web browsing history can be tracked and shared been other Google products like Google+ and YouTube. So if that strikes you as a bit invasive, there’s an easy way to turn it off.

Just make sure you’re logged into Google and go to https://www.google.com/history. Select “Remove All Web History.” This will stop the site from tracking your web history until, and only if, you opt back in.

You should also go to YouTube, which appears to have TWO separate History settings. First, go to http://www.youtube.com/my_history and both clear your history and pause it. Then click on the “Search History” tab from the left column and repeat.

“When a company with as many services as Google is collecting so much information across so many services and combining them into a personal file about you, it naturally raises a lot of questions and concerns,” says Ioana Rusu, Policy Counsel for Consumers Union. “Some of the most popular sites on the web belong to Google. If you’re online, one way or the other, you’re going to run into a Google product. If you don’t like the idea of Google being able to collect your activity on all these different sites into a single dossier, there are some steps you can take to minimize the data that Google gathers about you, but the size and scope of this effort are still troubling.”

Comments

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  1. Cat says:

    “Web History has not been enabled by the administrator of the domain”

    Well, I guess that’s good news.

  2. framitz says:

    Good tips,

    Thanks!

  3. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

    I’m keeping mine. It’s useful when I have to go back and see what I searched for in 2007. I’ve done that more than once.

  4. areaman says:

    I opted out just now and it was painless.

  5. J-Sap says:

    Hopefully this is not just a “hide your viewing history from yourselfveven though Google still tracks it” button; but it is better than nothing.

  6. mauispiderweb says:

    My web history has never been turned on and I have the option to Turn on Web History or No Thanks. Guess which one I chose?

  7. gargunkle says:

    When I go to the Google link I do not see “Remove All Web History.”

    Does that mean I don’t have any saved? (I am logged into my account there)

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      This notice is a tad late. I thought the deadline was yesterday. Nobody reads my tweets.

  8. DoodlestheGreat says:

    It didn’t offer to clear mine, just to keep it from starting. Which I gladly selected.

  9. jojo319 says:

    Google can track the sh*t out of me for all I care. They have made my life so much easier in so many ways. From how to cook a potato, to finding a good plumber. So if they want to spread the word that Jon likes to search for Godzilla toys, more power to them.

    • chefboyardee says:

      seconded. also i have an android phone. i willingly sold my soul to google years ago.

      besides, when i search for brazilian fart porn, i use an incognito browser that i’m not signed into.

  10. webweazel says:

    On FF, the browser I’m using right now, along with settings for cleaning cache & cookies upon closing the browser, habitually cleaning browser history after using a passworded site, and using Last Pass, I was 80% sure I was not being tracked very easily. Or at least not being tracked with information that could be linked to me or any of my accounts. (Those web page clear.gifs are the ones that get you.) Then a few months ago I added Do Not Track Plus, and I’m 99% sure I’m not being tracked. The nice bonus, is it blocks “social” buttons like Google+ and Facebook from automatically tracking you if you have a cookie enabled for those sites, but you can still click on them if you want to, so it doesn’t remove functionality of the button, just blocks its more offensive activities behind the scenes. It’s pretty cool so far.

    Just here, it is showing 3 trackers-“AddThis” “SiteMeter” and “ChartBeat”, but no social buttons or ad networks. None of these are a concern, BTW. They are just for site statistics or other site activities. Still interesting to click on the blocker while browsing the web and see who is watching you.

  11. Bob Lu says:

    I, for one, welcome out Google overlord.

    …seriously, I understand that some people don’t want Google store your brows/search history at all. However if you were OK with each of Google’s service doing it, I don’t see how it is not cool for Google to share such information between it’s own services. After all, don’t we allow Google know so much about us to trade for better personalized experience?

    • tooluser says:

      The key is providing a “better” personalized experience.

      Just because I searched for “froot loops” once does not mean I am a froot loop fanatic, and want to buy accessory handbags with a froot loop theme, or froot loop flavored tortilla chips.

      “Better” searches through personalization is most definitely what I have never experienced on the interwebs. There is no such thing as artifical intelligence, and what Google can do through brute force does not begin to approach my needs in the personalization arena.

  12. miss_j_bean says:

    I just looked at my search history and it’s hilarious. I was going to shut it off but I think I’m going to leave it. They can try to mine that if they want.

  13. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    Reminder: Turn Off Your Google Web History, Yesterday.

    There. I fixed the headline for you ;^)

  14. jacknval says:

    Guess who just found out the night guy is watching Asian p0rn on her computer? THIS CHICK! Explains why I have so many computer viruses! Thanks!

  15. Lyn Torden says:

    Why do I need to login to remove my history when I wasn’t logged into Google when surfing the web? How is it that Google could be tracking my visits to The Consumerist when I am never logged into Google while visiting here?

  16. Chester Copperpot says:

    I have done 44,000 web searches over the years?

  17. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    “Just make sure you’re logged into Google”

    …does that imply that if you don’t have a Google account of any kind that you shouldn’t worry?

    Also – any idea if they also track such stuff if done via a different website – like searching with Webcrawler (FTW) which crawls Google along with everybody else behind the scenes?

  18. DemosCat says:

    For YouTube, I would also suggest going to: http://www.youtube.com/account_privacy

    And turn off “Please use my account information to provide me with relevant advertising”

  19. benh57 says:

    I love my google web history. It’s quite useful for finding ‘that site i visited a few months ago but forgot’.

  20. carlogesualdo says:

    I like to tell people that the part of me that isn’t owned by Microsoft is now owned by Google. It’s absolutely true – I drank the kool-aid a long time ago and don’t have any plans to find a way out. I work in a job where using Google to search for all kinds of things, most of them not my idea. I watched a TED talk recently that explains why having Google track your searches is a bad idea – and it’s not really about Google knowing what you’re thinking or even about sharing it across services (or even with the police), but rather about what it’s NOT sharing with you. You should watch the video. Notice how Google knows one searcher is a journalist and the other one likes to travel. And how it assumes the traveler wouldn’t be interested in the civil unrest in Egypt at that time. And then think: if you were planning a trip to Egypt, wouldn’t YOU want to know about civil unrest so you could make an informed decision about whether to go? Sergey Brin and Larry Page were evidently in the room during this lecture, and now, a year later, this is the response. And it IS an opportunity, however flawed, to fix things. I’m turning mine off just so I can find out what I’ve been missing.

    Watch the TED talk here: http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles.html?quote=927

  21. waicool says:

    i don’t use google much any more except for maps (maybe). STARTPAGE seems to respect privacy a lot more.

  22. LBD "Nytetrayn" says:

    I don’t mind having a search history logged– as some have noted, it can be useful. But my understanding is that with this, others can see what I’ve been searching, as it’s associated with my Gmail account.

    That part, I’m not so big on. I did leave my YouTube history on, though, because I find that pretty useful and rarely come across anything that bad, anyway.