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Have you ever stopped and wondered, how much does Google know about you? How Much Does Google Really Know About You? How Much Does Google Really Know About You? Read More Turns out, it’s a lot. But for the first time, the search giant is offering a way for you to check the information it has about you, how it is gathering that data, and new tools to start reclaiming your privacy.

Google has launched My Account, a new hub to find out all the privacy and security implications of using its many services. In a blog post, the Internet behemoth said, “According to a recent Pew study, 93 percent of people think it’s important to control access to their personal information, and 90 percent care about the type of information that’s collected about them. But only 9 percent feel they have ‘a lot’ of control over it.”

So that’s where the new service comes in: MyAccount.Google.Com

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There are three main sections in your account dashboard: sign-in & security, personal info & privacy,and account preferences.

Sign-In & Security

What This Section Does

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As the name suggests, you will be able to control several aspects of how you log into your Google services (including Google+ and YouTube) as well as enable important safety features like two-factor authentication What Is Two-Factor Authentication, And Why You Should Use It What Is Two-Factor Authentication, And Why You Should Use It Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security method that requires two different ways of proving your identity. It is commonly used in everyday life. For example paying with a credit card not only requires the card,... Read More .

Security Check-up

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Run the “Security Check-up” by clicking the Get Started button. There are four steps in this, and you should carefully go through all of them.

  1. Check your recovery information and update it if it’s out of date. This is what Google uses to contact you in case there’s a problem with your account, so this is super important.
  2. Check your connected devices and make sure it is only listing the computers, tablets and phones that you use regularly to access your account. If there is any device that you don’t recognize, click “Something looks wrong” and Google will prompt you to change your password, locking out anyone from logging into your account through a different device.
  3. Check your account permissions to ensure that no app or service that you don’t recognize has access to your Google account. Go through this list carefully. You might find some services that you haven’t used in ages. Click “Remove” to deny them further access. You hear of services getting hacked all the time, why would you want to risk your Google account info falling into the wrong hands for an app you hardly use any more?
  4. Check your Gmail settings and make sure everything is in shape. Google will let you know if it recommends any safety measure.

The Important Things You Should Do

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  1. In Signing in to Google > Password & sign-in method > 2-Step verification, make sure it is set to “ON”.
  2. In Device activity & notifications > Security alerts settings > Manage settings, tick the check box for “Text Messages”.
  3. In Connected apps & sites > Allow less secure apps, switch the button to “OFF”.

Personal Info & Privacy

What This Section Does

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This is where you manage what personal information you are displaying to the world through Google’s services. Perhaps more importantly, this is where you also find out what information Google is gathering about you, and switch some of it off.

Privacy Check-up

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Run the “Privacy Check-up” by clicking the Get Started button. There are five steps in this, and you should carefully go through all of them.

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  1. Choose what Google+ profile information you share with others. There are some convincing reasons to still use Google+ It's Not Really Dead: 7 Reasons To Start Using Google+ Today It's Not Really Dead: 7 Reasons To Start Using Google+ Today I wake up in the morning, and check what's new on Google+. Yes, really. Google is putting a lot of brawn and brains behind the social network everyone loves to hate, and it shows. Read More , but that doesn’t mean you need to over-share personal data. You can control whether your Photos, YouTube/Videos, +1s, Reviews and Communities are visible as tabs to others. Importantly, you can choose whether Google can share your photos on its services and in endorsements for its products, and if it can tag your face in other people’s photos. Clearing such data is part of regaining your privacy on Google How To Clear Your Data From Google & Attempt To Regain Some Of Your Privacy How To Clear Your Data From Google & Attempt To Regain Some Of Your Privacy Wiping all trace of you from the web is not easy, but after reading Dragnet Nation by Julia Angwin you might just want to try. It's time to stop willingly throwing away your privacy. Read More .
  2. Help people connect with you or disallow them by checking if Google can automatically add you as a phone call option on Hangouts and caller ID. This only works for people who already have your number, but we can’t tell why they would then need to be helped by Google for this.
  3. Manage what you share on YouTube, such as your likes, subscriptions, what you searched for, what videos you watched, what’s happening in our activity feed, and so on. You will also get quick links to videos you uploaded on YouTube Everything You Need To Know About Uploading Videos To YouTube Everything You Need To Know About Uploading Videos To YouTube One of the best websites that we have available to us is YouTube. You can find a vast amount of content from useful information to cute and funny videos, like kittens. So what if you... Read More and your playlists. Remember, this data is entirely on Google’s servers, so give it a once-over and ensure there’s nothing you don’t want there.
  4. Personalise your Google experience is a nice way of saying “Let us track you!” This is the biggie, the place where you see what part of your usage Google is recording. The list includes Web Activity (also including Google Chrome activity 3 Steps to Regain Your Privacy in Google Chrome 3 Steps to Regain Your Privacy in Google Chrome Read More ), Device Information, Voice & Audio Activity, Location History, and YouTube Search and Watch History. In fact, clearing video search history can give more relevant recommendations too Sick Of Irrelevant YouTube Recommendations? Here's What You Need To Do Sick Of Irrelevant YouTube Recommendations? Here's What You Need To Do YouTube’s recommendations can eventually start going wonky, suggesting weird videos that have nothing to do with your interests. When that happens, here’s what you can do to deal with it. Read More . We will leave the decisions of what to activate and deactivate to you, but remember to carefully read what each section involves.
  5. Make ads more relevant to you by managing your ad settings, which is where things get a little scary. In your ad settings, you can see how Google has profiled you based on your years of activity so far, on Google as well as across the web. You can choose to opt out of ads here, but there doesn’t seem to be much point to it. Google will still gather that information about you, you just won’t see personalized ads based on that information any more.

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The Important Things You Should Do

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  1. Go to Control Your Content > Inactive Account Manager > Change This Setting and go through the setup process. This is an important aspect to make sure your Google account doesn’t fall into the wrong hands in case you are inactive for a long time, or to ensure your next of kin can get access to your Google account in case of your death. You can also set up an auto-response in case of inactivity, or send yourself an alert. Or you can just set your account to be deleted after a timeout period.
  2. Download Control Your Content > Copy or move your content > Download Your Data to grab an archive of all your Google data. It can be a huge file, but it’s always good to have a backup. Hopefully you have grabbed 100GB of OneDrive cloud storage Free Cloud Storage Upgrades: Grab 100GB of OneDrive & 2GB of Google Drive Free Cloud Storage Upgrades: Grab 100GB of OneDrive & 2GB of Google Drive Cloud storage is getting cheaper by the day, but nothing beats downright free. Some of the top services have come up with a few schemes that will raise your online gigabytes without spending a dime. Read More to safely upload this to the cloud and not worry about it except in case of an emergency.

Account Preferences

What This Section Does

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You can check your language settings, accessibility features, Google Drive storage, or delete Google products and services. There are several advanced options to delete or modify Google+ and YouTube in particular.

The Important Things You Should Do

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  1. Go to Delete your account or services > Delete products > Remove Orkut permanently. It has been months since Google shut down Orkut Google Kills Orkut & Quickoffice, Yahoo Saves Community, And More... [Tech News Digest] Google Kills Orkut & Quickoffice, Yahoo Saves Community, And More... [Tech News Digest] UK cinemas preemptively ban Google Glass, Reading Rainbow breaks Kickstarter popularity contest, Emojli chat app made for emoji masters, 'Yo, Hodor' adds Hodor to Yo, and Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare gets an honest trailer. Read More and there is no reason your old data should be still floating around on the web. Terminate it.

Do You Trust Google More or Less?

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My Account is a good step by Google in helping you gain deeper control over what it knows about you and what it can use from your private data. But you have to wonder, what is Google not telling us about the other data it records?

At the end of this exercise, do you trust Google more, or are you ready to kick Google out of your life Concerned About Privacy? How To Keep Google At Arm's Length Concerned About Privacy? How To Keep Google At Arm's Length Concerned about Google's data collection policies in light of all privacy issues? It might not be a bad idea to keep Google away from your Internet activities. But just how can you do that? Read More ?

  1. fcd76218
    June 5, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    Once your data has been captured by Google there is NOTHING you can do to make them "forget" it short of complete destruction of all their servers. Copying your data from Google to OneDrive only provides that data for free to OneDrive provider. "Copying" is always non-destructive, so now the data you are trying to eradicate exists in TWO places, not ONE.

  2. Kensta Gallaher
    June 3, 2015 at 10:21 am

    I'm a 15 year old teenager, I don't care about my privacy at the moment, but that will change once I grow up, more than likely. At the very least, I have some control over what they know.

  3. Read and Share
    June 2, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    I am absolutely unconvinced that by these panels, Google has revealed "all" that it knows about us. Far from it, I'm sure.

    • Read and Share
      June 2, 2015 at 10:12 pm

      P.S. - at the end of this exercise (which I have in fact gone through) -- I do NOT trust Google more, but neither am I ready to kick Google out of my life. I love using Chrome and I also use Gmail (which basically means Google Contacts as well). But I do take steps to (hopefully) keep some degree of privac I use one browser strictly for Google services (Gmail, Contacts, Voice). All Google history, location and ad tailoring are turned off. So far, for my use, I don't feel like I am missing out on anything at all. I use a separate browser for all other browsing; and here, Google, Doubleclick, and Youtube cookies are all blocked -- and I use StartPage for web searches.

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