Google Location history will track your every move – for good or for bad.

Google has a feature called Location History that can track exactly where you go. It is an “opt in” feature, which means that you have to turn it on, but you may have already activated it without being aware of it.

Google explains that Location History “saves where you go with your devices, even when you aren’t using a specific Google service, to give you personalized maps, recommendations based on places you’ve visited, and more.” Of course, the implication here is that Google will use the information on where you go to market to you, showing you advertisements and announcements about the places you visit and similar places.

To learn about this and other Activity Control features, open the Google Chrome browser and go to https://myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols. Note that you must be logged in to Chrome so it can show your settings, and you must be using a personal Gmail account as opposed to an institutional Google account from your school or employer. (When you are logged in, either your photo or your initial(s) will show at the upper right corner of your Chrome screen.) When you open the Activity Controls page, you will scroll down a little to see the Location History. If the slider is green, then the feature is turned on.

On your phone, turning the settings on is a bit different. For Android instructions, search online for “Android device location settings.” On an iPhone, go through the Activity Controls settings using the link above in your Chrome browser on your phone. Then open a Google app on your phone that is location-enabled; Google Maps is ideal. Be sure you are logged in to the same Gmail account. Tap Menu (the three horizontal lines or three dots,) then Settings (the gear). Click Personal Content and scroll down to Location Settings. Make sure that location services is on and access to location is set to “always.”

If Google has been collecting your whereabouts, you can view them on your Timeline by going to Google Maps and then clicking the three horizontal lines at the upper left corner, then click Timeline. To read more information on how this feature works, see https://support.google.com/maps/answer/6258979.

If you find that Google has indeed tracked you, and you rather it wouldn’t, you can click the “answer” link, above, for instructions on how to pause location history, turn it off, or delete your history altogether.

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