3 Hidden Google Settings You Must Change To Protect Your Privacy.
Big tech companies are woven into the fabric of our daily lives. We text each other on our Apple and Android smartphones, share photos on Facebook, shop on Amazon, work on our Microsoft and Apple computers, and do things on Google all day.
It’s no longer a secret that Big Tech tracks what we do and aggregates our data to sell it to advertisers. Tap or click to stop one of the biggest offenders, Facebook, from following you around the web.
If you’re serious about privacy, you might be ready to destroy your private information that is circulating the web – or at least as much as you can. Tap or click to delete yourself from the Internet.
Let’s look at a company that I bet you interact with most of the time, Google. Here are three settings you need to check:
1. Don’t let anyone know what you’re doing with Google
Each time you use a Google service, your interactions are recorded in your My Activity page. This page shows everything you searched for, photos you took, YouTube videos you watched, how you used Google apps, and more.
A lot of people don’t know that you can password protect everything. Who needs this new functionality?
Let’s say you share a computer or everyone in your house knows your system password. One click is all it takes, and everything you have done with Google is free. Yes, they will also see anything you would be embarrassed to talk about at the table. Even if this doesn’t apply to you, be careful if your phone or laptop falls into the wrong hands.
Here’s how to lock it:
• Visit myactivity.google.com on a computer.
• You will see a pop-up window that says: “Safer with Google: You can add more security to My Activity by enabling additional verification. ” Click on Manage.
• Select the option to Require additional verification, then press Save.
From now on, you will need to enter your password to view and delete your history. Saving your Google password in your browser or computer defeats the purpose. You’d better use a secure password that you can remember.
Wait, do they know what? Find out what Google is following and how you can erase it.
2. Check Google Photo tracking settings
I recently wrote about the wealth of information you can see in Google Maps. You can trace your travels for years, up to the route. Tap or click the steps to view this map and turn off tracking.
You might not realize that Google Photos collects the same kind of information. You can see wherever you’ve been as a series of photos on a map. Did you take a road trip and take photos along the way? The digital trail is there for you to see.
• Open the Google Photos app and tap Search.
• Under Places, you will see Your card. Tap it, then scroll down to view your photos as a list, or zoom in on the map and select a location to see the photos you’ve taken there.
It may seem like a nice walk down memory lane. If you don’t mind, you don’t have to change anything. If you are not that enthusiastic about this feature, you have a few steps you can take.
• On a computer, open Google Maps. Select the three-line menu, then click Your calendar.
• At the bottom of the screen, click Manage position history.
• This will open your Google account Activity checks page.
• If location history is enabled, the cursor will be blue. Click on it to turn it off, and it should turn gray. This will prevent Google from tracking any future movement or geotagging the photos.
• There is also a Automatic deletion option, where you can choose a period for the location data to be automatically deleted. This ranges from photos older than three months to photos older than 36 months.
To delete something newer, follow these steps:
• Open Google Photos on a PC.
• In the upper right corner, click on the Parameter gear.
• Scroll down and click on Sharing.
• Activate the slider to Hide location data from photos.
You are on a roll. Want to cover a few more security steps? Tap or click here for three quick privacy fixes you need to get on top of.
3. A new type of monitoring
Visit a new website and there is a good chance you will get a pop-up asking you to allow cookies. Cookies track which sites you visit and what you do there. They do practical things like logging your passwords and what’s in your online shopping carts, but at the expense of your privacy. All of this data is used to target you with advertisements.
Google removes third-party cookies. No, this does not mean that your information will not be shared with advertisers. But the method is changing. Google’s Federated Cohort Learning, or FLoC, runs behind the scenes of the Chrome browser for some users. This type of follow-up groups you with people with similar interests.
Bennett Cyphers of the privacy-focused nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation FLoC says was created to “avoid the privacy risks of third-party cookies, but it will create new ones in the process.”
If you are using Chrome, you may be “FLoced” without even knowing it. Visit amifloced.org to find out if you are part of the trial.
You have two options if you are. You can turn off any third-party tracking in Chrome.
• Click it three-dot settings menu.
• Go to Privacy and Security > Cookies and other site data.
• Choose the option for Block third-party cookies.
If you don’t want to deal with all of that, now is the time to find a new browser. Tap or click for my privacy-focused browser, ranked from best to worst.
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Discover all the latest technologies on the Kim Komando show, the nation’s biggest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and gives advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacking. For his daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit his website at Komando.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.