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Does anyone remember opting into Google Web History?

Turns out you can delete it, though.

Google caught my attention earlier this year when they cluttered up the web interface with extra buttons to promote/demote search hits.

Now Google tracks your web history by default when you sign in. Remember when we thought it was a big deal that the servers might surrepetitously install tracking cookies? Now it appears that Google assumes you’ve consented to pervasive web tracking just by signing in to Gmail, or Google Docs, or Google News, or any of the other rich data mining grounds web services they offer.

Even more interesting: it’s not mentioned on the privacy page.

Whom are they serving with this technology? Well, the only four bullets under the “Using your web history” header are “Removing,” “Deleting,” “Pausing,” and “Expanding beyond Google Searches.” So far it doesn’t look like there are any functions for the user, apart from having your search results look more like what you’ve searched for in the past. I’m not suggesting that Google would knowingly sell your search history. But once the data is there it won’t go away.

Your call.

Using Web History: Deleting

Not what you’re looking for? Select another option.

You can delete Web History from your Google Account at any time. Just follow these steps:

Note: deleting Web History from your Google Account will erase all items from your web history and stop your web history from being recorded in the future. You can also remove individual items without deleting all of your web history.

  • Click the My Account link from the Google homepage.
  • Click Edit next to ‘My products.’
  • Click Delete Web History. Make sure you’re signed in to your Google Account to see the My Account link.
  • Google Accounts Page

    About Ben Mazzotta

    Ben Mazzotta is a postdoc at the Center for Emerging Market Enterprises (CEME). His study of the Cost of Cash is part of CEME's research into inclusive growth.


    2 thoughts on “Does anyone remember opting into Google Web History?

    1. can’t find the “my products” link; would be helpful if you provided a screenshot

      Posted by Patrick Philippe Meier | August 20, 2009, 2:10 pm
      • Go to “settings” tab at top right corner. Click on the down arrow and select “Google account settings.” Click on “web history.” From there, you can delete all history and further saved searches will be placed on pause.

        Posted by gwyatt | November 2, 2009, 6:23 pm

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