Control, Alt, Google

Mountain View, CA/USA – May 21, 2018: Exterior view of a Googleplex building, the corporate headquarters complex of Google and its parent company Alphabet Inc.

There’s a popular keyboard shortcut <Control><Alt><Delete> that, generally speaking, interrupts or facilitates interrupting a function. For example, if a program on your computer hangs or crashes, you press this popular combination to force the program to close.

Today I’m coining a new term, <Control><Alt><Google>. In a nutshell, you can now tell Google to delete the data (or history) it has on / about you. In this post I want to cover three items: 1) What data is stored, 2) Why you should care about deleting it and 3) How to tell Google to delete your data.

What data does Google store (courtesy of my friends at Lifehacker)?

  • Web and app history. This includes voice and audio data from Google assistant and other apps; data collected from apps synced to your Google account; all Chrome browsing history.
  • YouTube search and watch histories
  • Google Maps history and GPS location data

Why should I care about deleting this information?

A more tangible reason is that deleting your data is helpful for up-to-date content (and ad) curation. People change, our tastes evolve, and periodically deleting your outdated content history is like giving your YouTube, Google Play, or even Google Podcast recommendations a refresh based on your current interests.

Deleting it means Google doesn’t always have enough information about you to make recommendations on what it thinks you’ll like, or where you might want to go. CNBC

How do I request Google to delete my data?

  1. Go to your Google activity dashboard.
  2. Click “Activity controls” from the left-hand sidebar.
  3. Scroll down to the data type you wish to manage, then select “Manage Activity.”
  4. On this next page, click on “Choose how long to keep” under the calendar icon.
  5. Select the auto-deletion time you wish (three or 18 months), or you can choose to delete your data manually.
  6. Click “Next” to save your changes.

Repeat the steps above for each of the types of data you want to be auto-deleted, the three noted above (Web and app history, YouTube search and watch histories and Google Maps history and GPS location data). For your Location History in particular, you’ll need to click on “Today” in the upper-left corner first, and then click on the gear icon in the lower-right corner of your screen.

Then, select “Automatically delete Location History,” and pick a time.

Parking Lot Price Switch

I saw this story online this morning and was shocked; but, not surprised! Here’s the crux: “If you allow Target to track your phone location, the app will switch certain prices from online to in-store.” (kare11) Watch the sneakiness in action below (16 seconds) then come back for tips on how to stop this from happening.

Think of the switching point like an invisible dog fence. Once you cross it (and enter Target’s vicinity) the price shown for a particular item (even if you Google it in store); will automatically adjust to the higher “in store” price. In some cases the prices per item can be DRASTIC $100+).

KARE 11 did an experiment to see if all of this is true. They looked at 10 different products and compared the prices offered on the Target app when they were away from the store and prices on the app when they entered the store. Between all 10 of the items, it would have saved them $262 to purchase these items from the back of the parking lot as opposed to purchasing them while in the store. $262! One of the products they looked at, a Dyson vacuum, jumped $148 after entering the store.

How to stop this from happening? Turn off Target’s ability to track your location. If you’re an iPhone user, go to Settings ==> Privacy ==> Location Services ==> Target (set this value to Never). While you’re at it, turn everything else you don’t need off as well. Sure, it can be convenient to find the nearest store, etc. but as we can see with this story, these features may come at an expense. If you’ve purchased any large items from Target lately, take advantage of their price match policy (14 days) to see if you can save a few bucks. Best Buy, Macy’s, Best Buy and Wal-Mart’s apps don’t currently do this. Also keep in mind the price difference could be the other way around. If you’re purchasing large items, do your research!!!

Full story below (worth watching!). 

 

 

Shop Assistant Turned App

What happens when a bakery assistant asks for similar permissions as an app on your cell phone, including access to people’s text message history and details of their past movements? That’s just the kind of questions most apps ask people everyday when you download them. Most people just skip right by it and click “OK”.  Watch what happens in real life when a bakery asks its customers these same questions.

Creepy, no? We use “Location Services” a lot – I am frequently guilty of this when I need directions somewhere or want to find the nearest Macy’s – this is one of the great conveniences of having a cell phone, no? It’s frustrating to think of not having these features. The extreme option would be to turn Location services off or only enable them when needed. If that doesn’t sound practical for you, PAY ATTENTION to questions being asked and check the box to “ONLY ALLOW LOCATION ACCESS WHILE USING THE APP”. If the only option is “ALWAYS” allow access – like Macy’s 😦 since this is my FAVORITE store – , definitely turn it off until needed. And remember, WHILE USING means anytime the app is OPEN, so be sure to close it! Otherwise, WHILE USING = ALWAYS.

Here are a few shots from the YouTube video.

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