FAQ: How to tell Google to forget you and make it stick

Tell me again why I want to delete my web history? And what Google would do with it?

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  • "If your request for https://google.com/history has a referrer attached, Google redirects you to their home page. I guess they don't want novice users to read an article like this, get scared and then delete their history. You certainly have to admire them ;)"

Yes, we do. They give us no choice.

"So if we get redirectd to the homepage, how do we access the relevant section where it is possible to delete all history?

Type it by hand into the navigation bar of your browser: https://google.com/history

That should take you there directly with no referrer.

  • "Does this mean that we have removed the history of searches that we have made for the length of time we have been using Google search?"

Yes. At least, the searches associated with that account. It doesn't eliminate records of your browsing history when you were not logged in to a Google account. It doesn’t stop Google from tracking your search or browsing activity in the future, either tied to a single account or to a semi-anonymous cookie identifying you. It also doesn't eliminate your history with YouTube, Picasa or any other Google service. You have to go find the relevant history page on each of those and eliminate them.

What it does do is sever the link between the profile Google already has of all your browsing and searching activity and the record it has of you from all those other services. Eventually, if you allow the other services to track your history, or allow Google to place tracking cookies in your browser without eliminating them frequently, that profile will build up again.

There are more things you can do to make that more difficult, none of which are particularly difficult or expensive, which I'll run down in a blog item in a day or so.

Read more of Kevin Fogarty's CoreIT blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinFogarty. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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