Don’t Let Google’s Privacy Policy Out You: Clear Your Web History Before March 1st

    February 24, 2012
    Drew Bowling
    Comments are off for this post.

Gizmodo‘s got a helpful guide out today that steers Google users through the steps to remove your search history. You might be wondering why cleaning out your Web History is worth considering/doing right now but, lest you forget, Google’s new and dubious Privacy Policy jumps into action next Thursday, March 1, at which point all content in your Web History will be linked with your personal Google Accounts (Gmail, YouTube, Blogger, etc.).

In the interest of safeguarding your integrity (in your Google life and your real life), Gizmodo details how to not only clear out your browsing history but also turn off the Web History feature so Google won’t be keeping a record of where you go on the internet:

  • Step 1: Assuming you are already signed into your Google account (if not, do that first), direct your browser to Google Web History. You may be prompted to enter your password before proceeding. If so, go ahead and do that.
  • Step 2: Once you’re in Web History, you’ll see all of the search content Google’s amassed from you. Atop the page, you’ll also see text that either says, “Web History is on,” or “Web History is off.” If you fall into the latter group, your work here is done. Good job – Google’s got nothing on you. If your Web History is on, sally forth onto the next step.
  • Step 3: If your Web History is on, click on the button that says, “Remove all Web History.” Of course, Google will second guess you and present you with the message, “Are you sure you want to clear your entire web history? Your web history will also be paused,” after you click the button. Indeed, Click ‘OK.’
  • Step 3: You may be prompted to re-enter your password; if so, enter it and proceed accordingly. If not, all the better for you. At any rate, you should be back at your Web History page and you should see a message that reads, “Your search history is currently empty.” If you see that, then – success!

    While on this page, note the message, “Web History is paused.” You will see an option to Resume, but stay away from that.

  • After that, exhale with relief that your browsing history is deleted and Google won’t be cross-sharing any future browsing information with your Google accounts.

    I mentioned above that if upon your initial visit to the Web History page you were greeted with the message, “Web History is Paused,” you have no search history to delete so you should be okay.

    One last but very important note: Gizmodo says that this still doesn’t prevent Google from gathering and using your information for internal purposes, nor does it prevent Google from handing it over to law enforcement should it be requested. Nonetheless, assuming you’re not a fugitive from justice, these steps will at least keep Google from inadvertently exposing your search history through your Google accounts. The last thing you want is for your innocent image search for “ultimate nudity” to end up populating your Google Accounts for all to see.

    • http://www.nashvilleseo.info Nashville SEO

      I second, and want to emphasize what Gizmodo is saying — turning off your web history will impact personalization when searching on google.com…and only personalization, for those searches on Google.com.

      From the research and probing I’ve done over the years, I’m continually surprised to discover all of the ways Google’s internal systems are NOT connected.

      That nifty little pause history option was launched alongside some of the first personalization additions. So, that means it does not impact such things as view history on YouTube; it likely also does not impact personalization from other data collected — such as personalized ads in gmail, based on the webpages you clicked-through to, sent to you from your guy friend with a questionable sense of humor.

      I’m far from being an alarmist, but the impact reaches far wider than tracking criminals. This has the potential to impact anyone with aspirations that would involve the FBI, high level military promotions, law enforcement, etc.

      It also impacts anyone who has high profile ambitions or could be vulnerable to smear campaigns — like well-known pastors, activists, politicians, anyone working for a political figure…the list goes on and on.

      It’s an unnecessary and invasive net, for law-abiding citizens to get trapped in.

    • Not Disclosed

      Whether you clear your Web history or not, Google still has a big fat dossier on you that could ruin your life if it were disclosed to the wrong person.

      It’s not just a question of law enforcement issues–though remember we all can be falsely accused. The info collected could be discovered and used by insurance companies, employers, identity thieves etc. “Weblining” by retailers is also an issue.

      Your article does explain at the very end that clearing Web history won’t prevent Google’s gathering for “internal purposes.” But I think this minimizes the issue. Google has been using the “you still have an option to turn off your search history” argument to minimize fears, and this is working only because most people are not computer savvy enough to know that this option only affects how the data is shown on their own computers, not Google’s collecting of it.

      Overall, I’ve loved Gizmodo’s reporting on this issue but I’m very disappointed in this article which in my opinion plays into Google’s hands by making all but the most careful reader think the problem is solved just by turning off Web history.

    • http://www.bloggerdreams.info BloggerDreams

      I don’t think anyone with his right senses will agree to this kind of move by Google. This is an infringement of privacy, infringement on human rights etc…which happen to be one of the pillars of America.

      The Pause thing worries me. It means that your history is not wiped out because it is retained somewhere in Google’s databases.

    • Anon

      My gmail account does not have this screen. It that have a different screen. It says “Web History makes search better.” Then it explains why and at the bottom there is an option for “no thanks” or “turn Web history on.”

      Is this because this is a very old account, from back in Beta days and maybe I didn’t agree to an auto opt-in of Web history?

      • Anon2

        My google account is the same and I said “No Thanks”

    • http://mindmagic123.com Holistic Hypnosis & Hypnotherapy – Los Angeles

      Thanks for this. I find it difficult to manage all my Google accounts. Looking up my own site for current ranking was being messed up by my personal results. I not only learned how to turn off history from the article, but how to get a search with no personal reults, and see where my site ranks as others see it. Something so simple asdoing a search has noe become something one needs a college class in as it is “improved” beyond all recognition. Where is the simplicity of yesteryear!

    • Adele

      Thanks for this important info. I find Google extremely intrusive.

    • Olaf

      To clear your browser history is fine and dandy, but hardly enough.

      “The probability of providing data to Google when visiting 5 random websites, without actively using any Google service, is 99.35%.”

      Found at http://w3techs.com/blog/entry/google_cant_track_every_single_click_of_your_web_surfing_only_most_of_them

    • http://www.the-best-denver.com Leonard

      Each day that I read about the direction Google has taken, I become more upset and saddened.

      In the offline world there are Civil and Criminal penalties for persons and companies known as “abuse by a person in a position of trust” or something similar.

      Google was both trusted and even admired by millions or more. So many of us have embraced the tools, clicked the Adwords ads, spread their news and tips and referred others to their services.

      I am now feeling like a pawn in a long term plan to manipulate and deceive the very people that trusted-my-trust in Google. What a low down dirty shame. I hope it all comes together before it all falls apart for their company and leaves millions of unknowing victims in the wake of Google after math-$$$$$$

    • A

      When I go to the Google Web History Link I am greeted with a “Web History makes search better” page. The buttons I have on the bottom are “no thanks” and “Turn Web History On”
      So it seems mine was never turned on in the first place and I am okay as far as needing to clear out my web history?

      • http://www.webpronews.com/author/drew-bowling Drew Bowling

        Yeah, as far as I know, you and your web history are okay. Now just worry about all of the other ways Google is stalking you. 😉

    • Rick

      Why stop at this? Why not DELETE your Google account completely, and then BLOCK the whole google-domain in your adblocker/firewall/webproxy? There is absolutely nothing you NEED Google for, there are other alternatives for everything. For search engines, give DuckDuckGo or Ixquick a try. They will NOT track you.


    • Liz

      Wow. I used to think it was just Facebook we had to worry about when it came to this. I guess while we were all upset about them invading our privacy, it allowed Google to just sit back and watch while they put all of this in place.

      Bottom line…all web activity is public. No matter how secure your password. Search smartly and don’t do anything that makes you pause and say “Hm….will anyone care that I looked this up?” If you hesitate before saying “No!” then I say go to your public library. They still have a card catalog & offline search capabilities. I don’t think Big Brother has a script for monitoring the dewey decimal system.

    • Donna

      I tried to do as the previous posting suggests… avoid google… Then I invested money in new smartphones for the family and lo, and behold, was required to get a gmail account. It’s been a while, I know, so maybe it doesn’t apply but… Wasn’t Microsoft sued for bundling the internet explorer program in their computers, ultimately “forcing” the client to utilize their product. Isn’t this the same thing, only a thousand times worse??

    • Brendon

      Isn’t March 1st a Thursday, not a Friday?

      • http://www.webpronews.com/author/drew-bowling Drew Bowling

        ………We use the second calendar around here.