How to Erase Your Google Timeline
Erase your Google Timeline to eliminate the historical location data that Google saves about where you have been, how your traveled there, and how long you stayed at each location. Your Timeline is visible only to you by logging into your Google account settings. However, it is also visible to anyone who uses your laptop or mobile devices or hacks your password and logs into your account. You may want to erase it from time-to-time to protect your privacy. Possible you may want to stop allowing Google to track you all together.
Google tracks your location through it apps like Google Maps, YouTube, its Chrome browser, and weather apps. Location History is a Google account setting that allows Google services to save your location to a service known as the Google Timeline. Your Timeline is an accurate and creepy history of every place you have been including travel time, mode of transportation, and physical address. Timelines are only visible to the individual.
Your personal Google Timeline can be seen here https://www.google.com/maps/timeline
Google uses the tracking to improve user experience. For example, if you search for “restaurants nearby” on Google Maps, the location tracking helps Google figure out what to suggest. OF course, weather apps show you what is going on nearby. Google Maps is a no brainer. What many don’t realize is that your location data is also being aggregated along with all other Google users and sold to advertisers. IN addition to helping you use their services, Google uses tracking data to show you personalized, targeted advertisements.
The Timeline knows!
Your Google Timelines records where you were and how long you stayed. While you were moving, it records what form of transportation you used – walking, cycling automobile, train. The Timeline knows where you live and work.
Shutting off the Location History setting on Google services is the only way to stop Google from recording your location history. Shutting off the Web & App Activity setting in your Google account is the only way to end all Google tracking. This is detailed in another blog post.
There is a major drawback to turning off tracking history. There may be some people that you actually want to share your location with. People who shut of Location History may think they are stopping all Google location tracking when in fact they are not. They are simply stopping Google from storing their information to the timeline. With Location History set to “off” location data is still tracked. To turn off all tracking a user must turn off Location History and “Web and App Activity.” This setting is on by default. Turn off both Location History and Web and App Activity to stop all tracking.
Erasing and not saving further location data to a Google Timeline presents a problem for people who want to share their location with family and friends. Many like to share their location via Google Maps so loved ones can see where they are, especially when traveling. If you choose to turn Location History off to stop Google from saving your location to the Timeline, then you also won’t be able to share your location with other people. So, it is an all or nothing approach to location. Because you want to share location data with friends, you therefore are compelled to share it with Google too.
How to Erase Your Google Timeline in a Web Browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox)
- In a web browser go to https://myactivity.google.com/delete-activity
- Sign into the Google account (Gmail) that you want to delete data for
- From the left-hand menu select Delete Activity by
- Choose a date range or delete all
- You also have the option to choose which Google products to delete history from in addition to the date range
How to Erase Your Google Timeline from Google Maps
- On your Android phone or tablet, open the Google Maps app (this can also be accomplished by opening http://maps.google.com/ in any web browser)
- From the upper left-hand hamburger menu, select Your timeline
- Tap the three dots in the upper-right-hand corner and select Settings
- Scroll down to the Location settings section
- To delete a data range of Google location history, tap Delete Location History Range
- To erase all location history, select Delete all Location History
Note: YOU must repeat this process for all Gmail accounts
Michelle writes about cyber security as well as how to protect your data online. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers