Google Is Listening and Recording Conversations. Here’s How to Delete the Files
Have you ever thought that Google and Facebook are eavesdropping on your conversations? If you’re like me, you’ve had a phone or in-person conversation and then a short time later, noticed there are advertisements related to something you spoke about. The last instance was when I started seeing adverts for the American Chemical Society Memberships after I started talking to my University daughter about her Organic Chemistry classes.
Well, we’re not just paranoid. Although Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg denied before Congress this past spring that Facebook does not listen in on conversations, it turns out that some Google services do. I found my recordings saved online in my Google account.If you want to jump straight to it this is where you can listen to the recordings of your voice. Log into your Google account and go to https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity?restrict=vaa&hl=en
I was in the middle of writing a blog post about Google privacy settings and stumbled across the voice services section of my Google account. There under Voice & Audio Activity in my privacy settings I found recordings of my voice sometimes talking to my phone and sometimes not dating back a few years. Some of the recordings made sense, like when I was driving and asking Google to locate and dial a phone number. This occurs when I say “Okay Google” to my phone and it opens Google Assistant to fulfill my request. Other times, the recordings made no sense to me, like when I was singing along with TSwizzle and was recorded. Other times, I recorded my frustration with my Google app and was giving my phone a few Spanish commands before resorting to Harry Potter vernacular.
The part I don’t care for is the Google recorded and saved these sounds bytes to my Google account rather than just using them in the moment to retrieve what I needed and then discarding them. Voice recordings made from my phone are available on my laptop.
Why is Google Recording Me?
According to the services section under my account: “Records your voice and audio on Google services to improve speech recognition, like when you say, “Ok Google” to do a voice search.” Recording also occurs when a user taps to microphone icon.I scrolled and scrolled throgh my voice recordsings. They go back for years. I don’t know how many there are, the list never ended.
That’s fine, but I don’t want these recording s saved for all of perpetuity.
Regardless of the source, I’m creeped out by that fact that Google recorded and stored my voice. I understand the listening part. In some of the recordings I was legitimately commanding Google to do something for me and therefore it needed to listen. But why it needs to be saved for years on end? I don’t know. I don’t like it
How to Stop Google from Recording Your Conversations and Storing Them
You can stop Google from saving your conversations to your Google account. Making this change will cause Google assistant not to work. And herein lies my issue with Google privacy settings. Why can’t Google assistant work by listening to my command then discard it when it’s done? Why does it have to save it online? The same goes with location sharing. If I want to share my location with one person, a lot of Google tracking is involved and gain my data is stored.
You must be logged into your Google account via Gmail login, YouTube, maps or other Google service.
- Scroll down to the Managing, reviewing, and updating your information section and select Activity Controls
- Scroll down past Location History (I address that in another post) or go to Voice & Audio Activity https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity?restrict=vaa&hl=en
- Listen to (if you want to) and delete all of the audio files here
- To shut off the voice recording go to https://myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols/audio and move the slider to off
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 conducts workshops focused on web technologies and enjoys public speaking along with her connected rescue mutt.