The revelation was made by an investigation by Associated Press which found that even after people turned off ‘Location History’ in their privacy settings, Google was still recording exact locations when users carried out certain tasks.
Opening Google Maps on your iPhone, searching for literally anything within Chrome on an Android phone or just simply viewing the latest weather will all prompt Google to take a snapshot of your exact location and then store it on their servers.
As you may or may not have realised by now, Google collects quite an astonishing amount of information on you which it then uses to provide you with more targeted advertising, or to make its searches feel more tailored to you.
In an effort to try and provide transparency about what it’s doing, Google does have a ‘My Activity’ page which shows you everything Google tracks on you, from your Gmail searches to the videos you watch on YouTube.
From here you can control which things Google stores and which things it can’t, including of course ‘Location History’.
However, even after turning this off you’re not actually stopping Google from collecting your location through the weather app or through searchers on Google.
Instead you’ll have to go to a completely different setting called ‘Web & App Activity’ and turn that off. Thankfully this is easy to do.
How to stop Google tracking you even after you’ve told it not to:
Since 2016, Google has allowed every user to see all of this information through a privacy website called My Activity. This will show you a timeline of every interaction you’ve made through one of Google’s apps – whether it’s watching a video on YouTube or asking for directions through Google Maps. Prepare yourself, it’s a bit scary.
Google uses a lot of the data it collects to help it work faster – that’s why when you start typing in Google Search, it seems to instinctively know what you’re looking for. This can be useful, but comes with a tradeoff: Google records and remembers every search you make through Google, Google Now or even Google Maps. It doesn’t share this with anyone, but stores it for its own services.
To stop Google recording every search head to My Activity by clicking here. Now click on Activity Controls on the left-hand side of the screen.
You’re now in the main settings screen.
The first setting is called Web & App Activity. Turn this off and then click on the word Pause. Also untick the box below that says Include Chrome browsing history and activity from websites and apps that use Google services.
This will stop Google tracking your location when you open Google Maps on your iPhone, or tracking your location when you search for things through Chrome.
If you want to learn more about how Google’s collecting data on you, and how to delete that data then read our comprehensive guide.