Guide: Using Google’s Pri­va­cy Check-Up Tool: Guide

Google is getting a lot of criticism these days when it comes to privacy issues. Rightly so. It has a lot of of your personal information and if the recently released Google Photos is any indication, they have no plans to slow down. Watch out! Image via Shutterstock. But there is good news. In any case, Google is trying to be transparent about this problem. Rather than burying settings that let you opt out of some of the crazier trackers, they are now putting a lot of them in the foreground (not all of it, of course, this is Google after all). Google has released a brand new My Accounts page (complete with Material Design goodness) where you can track everything related to your account. This section also contains two controlup tools: Privacy Check-up and security checkup At first glance, the Privacy Check-up tool may look simple. It’s just a step-by-step process with switches to flip features on or off, right? Wrong. There are popups, help pages to read, confirmation pages to dodge, and Google’s clever PR writing to peruse. So for the common good, we made this walkthrough (yes, like those game walkthroughs you see up every time you are stuck in a mission in GTA) to help you. Let’s start.

1. Choose the Google+ profile information u Share with others

Show these profile tabs to visitors: First, we’ll take a look at what the world, your friends or not, sees when they land on your Google+ page (if they ever are). Google+ has special tabs for profile pages and here you can turn off photos, YouTube / videos, +1 and reviews. With all of them disabled, no stranger on the web will be able to access all of your photos, videos, +1’s, or your Play Store reviews.

Speaking of Google+, through the social network you can hide everything except your name, profile picture and cover picture from strangers. Google+ communities: Deselect this option if you don’t want the world to know about the weird Google+ communities you are involved in.

Photos and videos: The first option prevents Google from using your publicly shared photos in one of Google’s services. At the moment it includes wallpapers for Chromecast and Google Fiber, but that may change tomorrow. In the second option you can enable Google Find my Face featureThis feature let you and other people tag your face in photos and when that happens, Google will create a face map for you. This is then used to intelligently identify any photos you are in. Shared recommendations: This is an important one and where your name and face can end up in a place you may not want – ads. And Google knows this, because disabling shared recommendations is a four-step process.

First, click Edit your shared recommendations buttonA pop-up up describes what the process means and you can see examples of how your publicly shared reviews and + 1s could end up in advertisements. Scroll down and click on the check box. This will open another window to make sure you know what you are doing. Click Continue and finally Done.

2. Help people connect with you

Here you see the primary phone number associated with your Google account. This setting means that when someone already has you phone number, they can easily look you up up on Hangouts or Google+. If you have your phone number with anyone, this setting will not affect you. A side effect of this feature on would mean that when someone bumps into you phone number, they can easily link it to you.

3. Manage what you do Share on Youtube

Here you can turn off how much of your YouTube viewing activity is shared with your friends and the world. You can choose to keep all of your videos you like, saved playlists and subscriptions private from your friends and followers.

Speaking of your YouTube channel, you can choose to post to a feed when you add a new video to a public playlist, when you like a video, or when you subscribe to a channel.

Personalize your Google experience

Okay guys, this is the biggie. The options you choose here determine exactly what information Google receives, stores, uses and shares (with third parties or the Internet).

Web & App Activity: If you’re a heavy Google user, you probably shouldn’t turn this option off. This option allows Google to keep a history of all your searches and everything you browse on all devices with Chrome. Yes, that is a lot of information, but it is the same information that it provides up better search results in Chrome, website and topic updates in Google Now, and more. Location History: Feel free to turn it off and delete it as it won’t have a major impact on how you use Maps to navigate. Features such as traffic updates and navigation work fine. The only thing that will be different is that Google does not store all the location data it tracks from your Android phone (which is usually constant). Device information: The device information settings keep track of all devices that you use Google services with. When you click Manage activity button, you will be taken to a page with a daily history of all your connected devices. Voice and Audio Activity: When you use the Google Now voice search or the OK Google functionality, your voice will be recorded and used to improve the service. You can disable this recording option, but then you won’t be able to access the always-on OK Google feature YouTube search history: This is simple enough, you can prevent Google from keeping a history of your YouTube searches. YouTube Watch History: YouTube has a viewing history feature where you will get a list of every video you have ever seen. With this option you can turn it off.

5. Make ads more relevant to you

This setting is nothing more than a shortcut to a detailed ad settings page that has always existed. But it doesn’t matter, you’ve come this far, let’s run through this. After clicking Manage your ad settings, you will be taken to a page that doesn’t look simple and doesn’t use Material Design. You will see two columns for ads on Google and Google ads on the web. Here you will find information about you that will be used to target ads, specifically based on your interest and demographics.

If you don’t want Google to do that and instead show you only generic ads, you can click the unsubscribe link in both columns. To be clear, this does not disable Google ads. You will still see them, but now they will not use your personal information. You can also delete information such as your age, gender and interests that Google has for this specific use.

How did you do?

What have you disabled? Have you given up midway? Share with us in the comments below.

Using Google’s Pri­va­cy Check-Up Tool: Guide: benefits


Final note

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