Google knows a lot about you and it should not surprise you to know that everything you say to Google is recorded and kept in a database. However, if you are privacy-conscious enough, you can listen to all of it and delete what you want. In June 2016, Google launched a new portal for all user account-related activities, from where you can manage your privacy settings and see what you have searched for. Here is how to find and delete the recordings of your voice searches. Voice searches are far from the only thing Google saves about its users.
Google search powers trillions of inquiries a year, but for those on the outside of the company, precisely how that engine works is a mystery. Some people, like President Donald Trump, see political bias in this opacity. But while the exact algorithms that power Google search are unknown, the way it generally works--and some of its history--are knowable. And the fact that it is somewhat mysterious is actually a good thing for the average internet user. Google's search system is powered by proprietary algorithms that deliver results based on what it thinks the person wants in return.
Earlier today, the Associated Press published a report detailing how Google can log users' locations even if they've opted out of the company's Location History feature. The report indicated that if you want to entirely opt out of Google location tracking, you'll need to access and opt out of a second feature as well, one called "Web & App History." Before getting into the details, here's a statement Google provided the AP (the company had not responded to our requests for comment as of publication time): "There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people's experience, including: Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services. We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time." The Verge received a similar statement, but one that says "we make sure Location History users know that when they disable the product, we continue to use location to improve the Google experience when they do things like perform a Google search or use Google for driving directions."
Google has been testing a new feature for its search app over the past two months and now it has rolled it out over the iOS and Android apps and Google.com. The "Recent" tab will allow users to browse through their previous searches so they can find what they are looking for faster and easier. The feature is contextual, so you needn't be worried about going through everything you searched for -- it will group related searches together and let you compare the search results side-by-side. You will also be able to delete the search queries you consider obsolete. You can also access the feature from the navigation drawer of the Google app, Android Authority reported.
Every time you run a search online, the websites where you maintain an account can record that information. This data--collected and stored by search engines like Google, social media networks like Facebook, and retail giants like Amazon--won't disappear when you erase your browser's search history. Ostensibly, these sites use your search history to assemble a profile of you, allowing them to show you content or products that will appeal to your interests. Conveniently for these tech companies, better understanding your preferences also lets them serve you targeted advertisements. On the bright side, a service can only collect this information while you're logged into your account for that site.