Most online companies make available privacy related settings that their customers can modify to their liking. The default settings are often less than optimal and making sure that everything is set up properly is one of the first things that you should do.
In fact, it is also important to check those settings regularly just to make sure nothing has changed.
The Google Account History is where Google displays some of the information that it collects about you. Search History for example is turned on by default, which means that all searches on Google will be recorded by it if you are signed in to a Google account at that time.
There is a misconception though in regards to the Account History feature: some users believe that disabling history features will stop Google from recording data. It won't. While it limits Google on what it can do with the data, the company may still record it as confirmed on the "delete search history" page:
When you delete items from your Search History, they are no longer associated with your Google Account. However, Google may store searches in a separate logs system to prevent spam and abuse and to improve our services.
What is being recorded
According to Google, the following information are recorded by its servers:
- The IP address of the user.
- The date and time the request was made.
- The full request URL including search query.
- The header that includes the browser and operating system.
- A unique cookie ID that is stored on first visit.
Manage your Account History
Google has improved the Account History page recently. It is now displaying all important switches on a single page for easier access.
The new page lists the following four history-related features:
- Things you search for - Google Search History saves searches that you make to "deliver better suggestions, faster results, and other valuable Google product features".
- Places you've been - Saves the locations you have been in to "provide benefits like improved map searches and tailored commute information".
- Your YouTube searches - Saves searches you have made on YouTube to "make future searches faster and your video recommendations better".
- Things you've watches on YouTube - Saves all videos that you have watched on the site to make them "easy to find and improve your YouTube experience".
All four entries list a manage history link and an enable or disable button depending on the current state of the history feature. The manage history link leads deeper into the account. You need to sign in again using your password before Google lists the history that it has recorded.
Note: Clicking on disable may not necessarily delete past recordings. You may eed to use the manage history link to delete those recordings from your account. After you disable a feature here, click on manage history to verify that all data is removed from the history.
Below those four major history settings are related settings which you may find useful as well. They lead to the following four entries at the time of writing:
- Google+ - The Google+ account settings that offer privacy settings and more.
- Shared Endorsements - If you don't want your profile picture showing up next to commercial or promotional contexts.
- Search settings - Google Search settings page.
- Ads - Displays information about you according to your Google Profile and Google ads across the web. Includes your gender and age, language, interests, and opt-out settings.