Google Privacy Checkup & Security Checkup
In your Google Dashboard, you can perform a Google Privacy Checkup and a Security Checkup if you want to enhance the control you have over your online Google account data.
To run any of those Checkups, scroll down to “More ways to control your data.” Under it, click on “Security Checkup” or “Privacy Checkup.”
Google Privacy Checkup
This feature (which you can also access through this link) is meant to walk you through the main steps of adjusting the data Google uses to personalize your online experience. To get started, just click on “Start Now.”
Now, we’ll walk you through all the 5 Google Privacy Checkup steps, and discuss which options we recommend choosing.
1. Manage What You Share on YouTube
- Under “Likes and subscriptions,” check the boxes next to all the options.
- Under “Your YouTube activity feed,” uncheck all the options.
2. Help People Connect with You
If you have a phone number added to your Google account, make sure you uncheck both options under this section. Otherwise, people who have your number can interact with you through Google services, and view your public data as well (which can be exploited by people with bad intentions).
3. Choose What Google+ Profile Information You Share with Others
If you want to take your Google+ profile privacy to the next level, be sure to uncheck all the options in this section (except the very last one – we’ll get to that in a bit). This way, profile visitors won’t be able to see things like your photos, videos, and community posts unless you share them publicly.
Oh, and be sure to click on “Edit What Others See about You” if you want to tweak other settings, such as your birthday and gender.
As for the last option under “Photos and Videos,” make sure you check it to ensure your publicly-shared photos won’t be used by Google to promote their services and products (Yes, they can actually do that).
While you’re at it, go ahead and click on “Edit Your Shared Endorsements Settings,” and check the option at the end to make sure Google won’t use your profile info and reviews (involved with shared endorsements) in ads.
4. Personalize Your Google Experience
Click on the drop-down menus next to all the items on the list, and drag the slider to the “Off” position. Why? Because it will help you keep Google from saving a lot of info that’s related to your online activity.
5. Make Ads More Relevant to You
Just click on “Manage Your Ads Settings,” and turn off “Ads Personalization.” Do that and you won’t have to constantly worry about Google using all your account data to bombard you with “relevant” ads. Naturally, that doesn’t mean you won’t see any other ads online.
Google Security Checkup
This feature (accessible through this link as well) lets you manage most of your Google account’s security options, such as:
- The devices associated with your account
- Third-party apps that can access your data
- Two-step verification
- Your account’s recent security activity
Under “Recent security activity,” you can quickly check out when and where your Google account was accessed. If you notice any activity you don’t recognize, click on “Don’t recognize an event?” and follow the on-screen instructions to change your password.
If you click on “Third-party access,” you’ll get a whole list of apps that have access to your Google account data. You’ll also see what kind of data they have access to as well (click on the exclamation mark icon on the right of the app to learn more about that). If you want to remove an app from the list, just click on “Remove Access” in the lower right.
“Your devices” contains a list of devices associated with your account, and some general security tips (like a recommendation to add a screen lock to your mobile phone). Click on “Don’t recognize a device?” if you notice any suspicious activity and follow the instructions to change your password.
Lastly, to turn on two-factor authentication (which we highly recommend you do), just click on “2-Step Verification” and link an email address or phone number with your account. To add more options, access this link and follow the instructions.
Other Ways to Control Your Data
Besides Google Privacy Checkup and Security Checkup, your account’s Dashboard offers other options to control your online data, such as:
- “Download your data” – Very useful if you plan on erasing your online tracks (to a certain degree, of course) or if you want to delete your Google account. Just browse through all the account data you want to save, and click on “Next,” and then on “Create Archive.”
- “My activity” – An overview of all your online activity that involves your Google account. You can browse through it, and delete certain activities.
- “Maps timeline” – It’s an in-depth overview of the places you accessed Google from – along with the dates. Yes, Google actually knows stuff like that about you. If you want to see what else they know, check out this article.
- “Activity controls” – Here, you can tweak certain features (such as Location History or Device Information) to enhance your Google experience and protect your privacy (not completely, unfortunately – Google won’t really allow that). We’ve got a more in-depth tutorial for this here.