It is no secret that our digital lives are tracked, dissected, and targeted based on where we have been, what we’ve looked at, and what we like. Facebook has made this a much more widely known fact. We’ll break it down by both behemoths and what they have access to.
Being very much aware of the tracking and cookie-ing that goes on as a marketer, I was dumbfounded when recently made aware of Google’s My Activity page, then drilled down into the location timeline feature.
As you see below, it knows where I have been and when I was there. You can click on those little red buttons and it will show you which hotel you stayed in, what airport you were killing time in on a layover, but when you click in deeper, it shows you exactly what you were doing on your honeymoon as I discovered from my Greece trip with the images below:
You also have the ability to see all of your searches on Google, then you can even download a full excel document to track all of your searches over time. While I received a folder of JSON files, I quickly extracted a few bits of information, like I apparently search a lot for hockey training & conditioning information, and have Googled “Austin Business Journal” 4 times since the beginning of the year. I also have done 1108 searches this year. I’m not sure if that is a lot or a little though.
As many of us know, Facebook knows a ton about us. If you haven’t ever done so, check out your all activity feed and be wowed by how much it knows. I included a screenshot just of the music it tracked from my Spotify account to demonstrate (saving my humiliation from the friends puppy pictures I liked):
You can even get a day-by-day recap of where you were and what you did via Facebook. Google’s not the only one. Just click into the filters on the left side, and click ‘more’ under photos, etc… and click on the location history and voilé:
Okay, I’m sufficiently creeped out. How can I turn it off?
I was surprised at these settings, as I thought I had previously turned them off on my phone, however, there are nuances involved that I was fully unaware existed. To turn things off, all you need to do is click here and manage the tracking that Google has access to. They make it pretty easy to turn things off quickly.
Facebook on the other hand, makes it more difficult. You actually need to click into each category to clear your history and on the top right corner of the screen, you’ll need to click “Clear Location History.” According to Facebook, you are not able to remove it all at once or remove the tracking altogether.