“One policy, one Google experience”. That is the motto behind the new Google Policy Site. Today [March 1 2012] marks the change over date from Google’s old policy guidelines to their new, more unified approach.
The thought is to make things easier for the user. “We got rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replaced them with one that’s a lot shorter and easier to read.”
[this is an independent opinion and in no way reflects any official message or statement on Google’s behalf]
I wanted to just give MY OPINION on some things that I have been seeing people posting on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Many people feel that this is a horrible move on Google’s part. They think it decreases the amount of privacy the users have and think that now Google is going to use all this information to make your internet experience worse in whatever way.
Google Browsing History
The first response I have is about people’s concerns with their “Google Browsing History”. When you use the internet you are being tracked. Their really is almost NO WAY to completely prevent this. You can use things like Proxy Servers and Disabled Cookies as well as browser settings like Chrome’s Incognito Mode. But the fact remains that you are likely still being tracked by one of the sites or programs or apps that you are using.
So, what can you do to limit at least what GOOGLE knows about you? First thing is keeping your “browsing history” under control. Just like clearing your cookies or deleting your browser history, Google allows you to clear your GOOGLE “cookies/history”.
Here are instructions to see what Google has documented about you.
1. Go to the google homepage and sign into your account.
2. Click the dropdown menu by to your name in the right hand corner of your screen.
3. Click accounts settings
4. Find the “Services section”
5. Under “Services” there is a sub-section that reads “View, enable, disable web history.” Click the link next to it that reads: “Go to Web History.”
6. You can now “Remove all Web History” and/or Pause the documenting of history.
Should I clear ALL my history?
Now that you know what Google knows you have a decision to make. Should you clear all your history? In my opinion NO. I do however suggest clearing certain parts of your history every so often if you feel the need. Things like your image search history, book search history, etc are less vital to your personalized search experience.
The reason for this is Google uses the information it gathers about you to serve you better. It personalizes Search Results based on YOU, it personalizes Advertisements across the web based on YOU, as well as other improvements. So if you have been researching Cars (for example) you are likely to see car related advertisements. If you are planning a Wedding, you will tend to see more Wedding or Honeymoon related ads. Makes sense doesn’t it?
In addition, if you visit a website often or if you have +1’d it, Google is more likely to serve that site to you in search. Again, Google uses the data it gathers to offer you a better experience. If you clear all your data then Google (essentially) forgets who you are which in my eyes means a worse search experience.
Your Personal “Trends”
This is one of the coolest things that I have seen (and never knew about until a few days ago). People are so concerned lately about being tracked. From the iPhone, to Facebook, and now Google, people are worried about what parts of their lives are tracked by the companies, sites, apps they frequent. Well, here ya go. Between the Browsing History [above] and Trends, Google tells you exactly what they track. Many people will begin to realize that there isn’t a need for such extreme concern. If there IS something you dont want remaining in your history or that you don’t want to be served ads for, simply clear that data.
As I look through my own Trends I can see my life over the selected timeframe. I use Google, a lot! I use several different Google products and with Trends I can see some cool data about myself. I can see how many searches I do in a month, what sites I visit most often, my daily search activity and more.
To check your own Trends, visit Google Trends
Good To Know
If you are wondering what Google does with your information or how to better protect yourself and your data, Google has a great site to explain it all.
It is important to know how to be smart about your online activity and their privacy section dedicated to this is aptly named, “Good To Know”