Google has started rolling out new privacy controls in their Google Search tool. This feature will allow users to review and clear recent search history directly from the tool itself. It also makes locating and using these settings easier than it was before.
Google Search history is the data the company collects on you determined by the searches that you perform on their server. Google’s servers store this information, and they build a profile on you that is based on your previous searches. This profile gives them the ability to target you with more relevant ads when you are using their platform.
Some advocates for better security and privacy practices will appreciate the new options. Users who want to have the opportunity to limit which data Google stores will like it too. For example, maybe you don’t mind having some of your data stored because of the conveniences that it offers, but you don’t want what you were searching in the recent past saved. You can fix that now.
You won’t want to do this if you appreciate relevant ads on your Google tools. Clearing the search history can make the services available on Google different than you expect, and the ads you see may be less relevant or inaccurate to your tastes.
Be aware that search history is different from browser history. Browser history tracks the sites you’ve visited while Search history tracks the searches that you have made using Google.
Delete Search History
Here’s how to access this new privacy hub, and with it some old ones, in a more straightforward way. Word of warning, however, if you delete your search data, you will not be able to get it back.
On a Desktop Browser
1. Sign in to your Google account.
2. Click on Settings in the bottom right-hand corner.
3. Select “Your data in Search” to see your most recent searches as well as the options to delete.
4. Find “Delete your search activity.” It will display two options: “Delete last hour” and “Delete all search activity.”
5. Click on your choice.
6. Confirm. Remember, there is no undo feature.
You can find the same information by clicking on the new link under the Google search box on google.com that says “Control your data in Google Search.”
1. Tap on three lines on the left side of the search page.
2. Click “Your data in Search.”
3. Scroll down to find the two choices for deleting the data: “Delete last hour” and “Delete all search activity.”
4. Click on your choice.
More Privacy Hub Options
From the same privacy hub you can now access relevant privacy controls Google-wide, including:
- Ad Settings: control the ads that pop up during a search
- Activity controls: adjust what information Google saves to their account and uses across Google services.
(These are not new features, though. You have been able to access them through MyActivity page for some time now. They are just easier to locate in the data privacy hub.)
The new privacy hub is now available for Google on desktop computers and mobile web browsers. The rollout for iOS and Android should be coming in the next few weeks. Next year Google will add these direct privacy controls to Google Maps and other Google tools.
Remember, if you have more than one Google account, like many people do to keep work and personal information separate, you will need to do this with each account separately if you want them all cleared.
Even though many people concerned with privacy may not think this goes far enough, it’s nice to see Google making an effort.