Thursday, 30 March 2017 07:07

Google's My Activity reveals just how much it knows about you


Search company launches new opt-in ad service for non-Google sites and tools that show how it tracks your internet activity 

Google has rolled out new tools to let users see what its ad-tracking service has learned about them, and to let users opt in or out of a new personalised ads service.

The addition to Google’s account settings, called My Activity, allows users to review everything that Google has tracked about their behaviour – across search, YouTube, Chrome, Android and everything else – and edit or delete it at each step.

If you use Google for everything you do, you might be surprised by just how much it catalogues about your comings and goings on the internet.

google my activity

 Google’s My Activity page allows users to see what Google records of their internet activity Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The My Activity tools comes with new ad preferences. Google currently uses the information it has learned about you to tailor ads across its own services, of which you can opt out.

But now Google is offering to use its behavioural information to tailor ads shown across the wider non-Google internet and Google’s search pages, which until now was purely done through the use of cookies.

The big difference to most other moves by similar companies offering ads on its own services and third-party sites, including Facebook, is that Google is making this interest-based advertising extension opt-in, not opt-out. If a user does not actively select to enable the new ad targeting they will not automatically be enrolled.

Google signed-out ad control settings

 Google signed-out ad control settings Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

Now there are two separate behavioural advert settings for users to switch on or off as they see fit. One is so-called signed in ads, those on Google services, and signed out ads, those served by Google on third-party sites of which there are over 2m across the internet.

For the privacy conscious, you’re unlikely to want to opt in for greater profiling and should you wish to turn off both signed in and signed outads, Google also has a Chrome extension to permanently opt out of Google’s DoubleClick tracking cookie. But to encourage users and make dealing with ads a more palatable proposition Google’s making tools available to users to sweeten the deal. These include the ability to “mute” certain ads, including those that irritatingly seem to follow you around the internet after the odd search or product viewing, and find out why you’re seeing particular ads.

The new tools and controls are rolling out to users at the moment, but not everyone has immediate access. Users should get a notification about privacy and security changes in the near future, which will guide them to the new ads settings.

Source  :


World's leading professional association of Internet Research Specialists - We deliver Knowledge, Education, Training, and Certification in the field of Professional Online Research. The AOFIRS is considered a major contributor in improving Web Search Skills and recognizes Online Research work as a full-time occupation for those that use the Internet as their primary source of information.

Get Exclusive Research Tips in Your Inbox

Receive Great tips via email, enter your email to Subscribe.