How to delete your Google Web and App Activity automatically
Google customers may use a new setting to have their web and application activity deleted automatically. The new feature complements the existing options to pause the recording of web and app activity and manual deletion of activity of a Google account.
Google revealed in the beginning of May 2019 that it was about to roll out a new privacy feature that would give customers options to have their activity deleted automatically.
The company gives customers control over the recording of some activity on the My Activity management page. Google customers find options on the page to manage YouTube, Web & App, Voice & Audio, Location, and Device activity and information.
All of these can be paused to disable the recording of activity; existing data may be deleted manually at any time.
Web & App Activity is the first control to get a new feature that automates the deletion of data. The new option may be of interest to Google customers who have not paused the recording of the activity data mostly.
Web & App Activity data is recorded when Google customers use services such as Maps, Google Search, or Google Play. Google notes that it uses the data to create personalized experiences.
Your Web & App Activity includes the things you do on Google services, like Maps, Search, and Play. It can also include things you do on sites, apps, and devices that use Google services. The activity you keep is used to give you more personalized experiences, like faster searches and more helpful app and content recommendations.
Tip: Google released a privacy checkup option in 2016 to audit privacy settings.
How to delete Google Web & Activity Data automatically
You may set up the automatic deletion of data of your Google activity even if you have paused Web & App Activity.
Here is how you configure the automatic deletion of Web & Activity Data on Google's My Activity management page:
- Visit the Web & App Activity page on the Google My Activity website. Note that you need to be signed in to a Google Account; if you are not, you are asked to sign in.
- Locate the new "choose to delete automatically" button under Web & App Activity near the top and activate it.
- Select one of the available data retention periods. Google offers two currently: 3 or 18 months.
- Select Next.
- Google displays a confirmation on the next page and data that will be deleted (if any) based on the new data retention setting.
- Select Confirm to finalize the process and enable the new data retention policy or cancel to exit without saving and deleting.
Google confirms the deletion of the data when you hit the confirm button. The button on the main Web & App Activity page changes to "choose how long to keep" from "choose to delete automatically" when you set up automatic deletion of activity data.
Google will delete activity data when it crosses the selected retention threshold.
Automatic deletion of data is a step in the right direction. I'd like to see an option to set a custom time period, e.g. 1 month or 1 year, as it would improve the option further. Privacy conscious users may want to disable the recording of activity or, preferred, avoid using Google services while signed-in to an account. The latter may not be possible all the time though depending on the activity on the Web.
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