Google’s Maps is a fantastic tool for exploring the world. You can even see shipwreck sites on Google Maps, including the Titanic. Spending countless hours browsing through neighborhoods thousands of miles away is easy.
But the fun comes at a price. If you have location data turned on for your iPhone or Android device, Google Maps tracks your every move. This can have more implications than you realize.
Read on to see what Google knows about you and what you can do about it.
Here’s the backstory
For any app to provide accurate data, it often needs to know where you are. For example, the Uber app must know your location, so the driver knows where to pick you up or deliver food. Weather apps need to know where you are to give location-based forecasts.
The same reasoning applies to Google Maps, as it must know where you are in the world if you need directions. But few might know that, unless you change it, Google Maps is always active and tracking your location.
It plots all the data on a custom map in your Google profile to make things even creepier. So not only does one of the world’s largest tech companies know where you have been, but it also stores the data on its servers.
Here’s how to see everywhere you’ve been on Google Maps:
- When logged into your Google account, open Maps.
- Click on the hamburger menu in the top left corner.
- When the full side menu is open, click on Your timeline.
- This will bring up a complete map of where you have been and the number of places you checked into.
- Data of places you visited can also be recalled by opening the side menu, clicking on Your Places, and then clicking Visited.
Location data can lead to targeted advertising or promotion of businesses in your vicinity. In the worst-case scenario, some of your location data can end up with data brokers.
What you can do about it
The first thing you might want to do is turn off location history. Here’s how:
- Go to your Google profile by navigating to https://myaccount.google.com. You must sign in if you aren’t already.
- In the left panel, click Data & privacy.
- Scroll down to the Things you’ve done and places you’ve been section.
- Tap Location History.
- Tap the Turn off button. Next, select Pause.
This same type of technology is used with Google Photos. Tap or click here to turn this feature off in Google Photos.