Did you know that everything you look up on Google’s search Engine is recorded if you’re logged into your Google account? While you can clear your local browser history, this will not clear your information from Google’s servers. Now, the company has revealed that they will be making it much easier for users to delete their entire history within the search engine itself.
Google plans to make these changes in their search engine on desktop and mobile web today, with iOS and Android updates to follow in upcoming weeks. The company also plans to expand its recent changes to services such as Google Maps next year, in an attempt to revamp their company’s privacy controls.
You can now review and delete your recent search history within Google search itself. Previously, Google’s privacy controls would be buried away in settings, often difficult to navigate through. Users had to open their ‘My Activity’ page after signing into their Google account. In addition, the page had no “delete all” button, which reduced user convenience significantly. Today’s update makes it much more user-friendly as it requires a simple click on the “Your data in search page” to erase the entire search history Google associates with your account.
The company will also be providing quick access to features such as disabled ad personalization, and will prevent Google sites from saving your search activity. In the end, these changes are designed to enable people to exercise more control over their accounts.
Google added a link to its data management options on its Google Search page, but customers could only open the link if they wish to go there directly.
Here’s how you can delete your search history from Google’s database:
1. Load https://myactivity.google.com/privacyadvisor/search in your browser of choice to get started: this will open the “Your data in Search” management page on Google’s My Activity website.
2. Scroll down to “Delete your Search activity” on the page.
3. Select “Delete all Search activity” to erase your entire search history or “Delete last hour” to only erase searches made in the last 60 minutes.
4. Confirm that you want the records to be deleted by selecting “delete” when the popup opens.
The popup informs you that Google may hold onto some of your Telemetry data, i.e. the number of searches of a user, after the search history that is on record is deleted.
Users can disable Web & App Activity on the same page to halt saving of their search activity. This would affect “all Google service that rely on Web and App Activity” for personalized services (i.e. Ads).
Earlier today, Google published a video on YouTube promoting the benefits of recording user’s search activity.
These updated privacy controls arrive at a time of increased scrutiny on the work that tech companies are doing to protect user privacy. Both Twitter and Facebook have had massive privacy scandals within the past year, and Google itself is facing huge pressure from the U.S. Congress over a recent Google+ privacy flaw. These new changes are also arriving the same day that Apple’s CEO Tim Cook called for comprehensive federal privacy laws.
Google probably hopes that this will restore user trust in their platform.