How to Check (and Erase) Everything Google Knows About You

Google tracks just about everything you do on the web, but the company is at least becoming more upfront about it. With the new My Activity dashboard, you can keep tabs of your recent activity on services such as Chrome, YouTube and Google Search, as well as delete anything that you don't want Google to remember.

To view the dashboard, simply visit myactivity.google.com, where you'll see a running list of your recent web activity organized by day. Each day's tab will tell you how many items you looked at across places such as Search, News and YouTube. Google really remembers everything — from my activity over the past week, I saw everything from recent websites I visited to specific addresses that I looked up in Google Maps.

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Fortunately, if that freaks you out, you can trash that info. My Activity lets you delete anything in its history, whether you want to flush out a day's worth of suspicious Google searching all at once or just remove that Taylor Swift video from your YouTube history. You can also search your entire history, as well as filter it by specific products such as Play Music, Books or Video Search. You can even filter by specific dates, which is a weird way to remember your Google search history from years ago. 

The latest update to Google's My Account dashboard also heralds the ability to control the ads you see from Google. Once you visit Ads Settings, you'll see a checklist of ad topics that Google has generated based on your web activity. Most of mine were spot on (games, online video), though I ended up unchecking ones that made no sense at all (I don't remember doing much searching for "banking" or "reggaeton").

While it might be eerie seeing your entire web history in this much detail, Google deserves props for being transparent while putting plenty of control in your hands. Just don't drive yourself crazy trying to find and delete that one extra-embarrassing YouTube search from years ago.

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