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Should You Delete Your Google Web History?

Posted by susabelle at 8:12 PM on March 1, 2012

Google LogoLike many of you over the last few weeks, you’ve probably been encouraged through all kinds of tech sites and blogs to delete your Google web history.  Should you?

More importantly, do you even have any web history to be worried about?

It seems as if I do not.  I have none to delete.  I also apparently don’t have any kind of profile on Google at all.  I’ve taken both recommended links from various articles to see what Google knows about me.  I have a Google account, occasionally use Google+, use Gmail daily (as in, I stay logged onto it at all times) and Google is my default search engine.  I’m never on a computer that I am not logged into Google on, for the most part.

The first link I tried, Google’s ads preferences page, had no information on me at all.  Others I’ve talked to have said their ads preferences shows their age (sometimes approximate and sometimes pretty close), the region where they live, and other rather personal information.  My page shows me where to find my cookies, but there is no information at all about my age, where I live, or anything else.  In fact, the page just looks like a lot of blah blah blah about Google and it’s advertising, to me. There’s nothing there of a personal nature or anything that tells me anything about myself (or what Google knows about me).

Okay, that’s good, I guess. But now the privacy policy at Google has changed, and there’s another place to go and see what Google knows about you, and a way to turn off the web gathering of that information.  It doesn’t mean Google won’t be collecting; it means they won’t be associating what you search for with your identity.  In their words, if you turn off this web gathering, and clear your web profile, that you won’t have personalized search anymore.  Okay, so I head on over to the Google web history page, intending to delete my web history.  Can you guess what I found?

I have none.  I had the option to turn it on or click on “no thanks,” but there was no option to delete my web history, as there was supposed to be. That’s because I have no personalized web history with Google.

And I’m not 100% sure why this is, since I’ve been using Google for years, and have had a Gmail account since the second round of beta.  I use my Gmail account for all kinds of things, and I use Google Calendar daily, and also Google Docs on occasion.  I should certainly have some sort of footprint.

The biggest difference I can see between myself and others who are seeing this footprint, is that I block ads.  I have blocked ads for years.  This doesn’t mean I don’t see ads at all.  It means that I see the least obtrusive ads, and the ad blocking program I use does not feed me Google Adsense ads.  I never see them.  Is this why I have no Google history?  No web history, no nothing?  I’m not invisible to Google, being a regular Google user.

But what is going on here?  I can find nothing on this anywhere.  Is the reason there is a web history at all because a person has seen and/or clicked on advertising?  And as I’ve said, I still see advertising; it is just subtle and non-intrusive, and I can either ignore it willingly, or click to block it with my ad blocker. None of the ads I see seem to be directed at me at all, they are random ads, for random items that may or may not interest me.

This has puzzled me for several months.  I don’t intend to change a thing about my setup or my ad blocking, however, as I’m perfectly happy to have no history and no real identity with Google.  But surely, I am not the only one experiencing this.  Would love to hear from others that find what I”m finding.

One Comment

  1. From Ryan at 10:06 pm on March 1, 2012

    I have also been using Google for many years, and apart from some crawled social media which I’ve adjusted the privacy settings on and removed from google’s cache (which can be done at https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/removals) There is nothing Google really has on me. Once the latest spat of removals occur, I will no longer show up in searches on google apart from a non-descript and almost buried reference on a web page from long ago that puts me in a good light and I don’t really mind about. But it’s always good to keep tabs on what’s in the cloud about you.