Are you afraid that Google tracks your every move? Well… you should, the company does track your whereabouts and it doesn’t really try to hide it. In 2015, Google introduced a new feature to Maps called The Timeline, where you can view where you’ve been in the last hour, day, week, month or even a year. But The Timeline is not a new concept. All these data were previously available on a website called Google Location History which was quietly existing for a couple of years but you might have never heard about it as Google didn’t really openly advertise it.
It is really fascinating what you can do with that sort of data… But it’s also scary that one company owns that much information about almost each of us and not everyone is aware of it. Fortunately there is a way to minimize the number of location data you’re giving away. You can play around your Android and iOS devices and you should find it but it’s a bit different depending on your OS version and a device. I found out that doing it via the website is much more convenient and it offers couple of cool features.
Google has a website called Activity controls where you can stop your location sharing among other services. You can pause your location sharing by simply pressing the blue button on the right.
From there you can also click ‘Manage Activity’ which will bring you to Google Timeline website. On the right bottom of the website you’ll find an icon that allows you to delete your entire location history from Google services.
Interestingly if you decide to delete your personal whereabouts, Google allows you to download all your data in JSON or KML format.
When you pause or delete your Location History, Google will warn you that this might impact your mobile experience by offering you less relevant search results, ads etc. but I guess you can live with that.
The truth is that we don’t know if this will delete all your whereabouts from Google databases. If you want to be location anonymous there only one thing you can do… Stay offline.