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How to Set Your Google Data to Self-Destruct

Google has now given us an option to set search and location data to automatically disappear after a certain time. We should all use it.

Last year you may have been addicted to Beyoncé. But nowadays you’re more into Lizzo. You also once went through a phase of being obsessed with houseplants, but have lately gotten into collecting ballpoint pens.

People’s tastes and interests change. So why should our Google data histories be eternal?

For years, Google has kept a record of our internet searches by default. The company hoards that data so it can build detailed profiles on us, which helps it make personalized recommendations for content but also lets marketers better target us with ads. While there have been tools we can use to manually purge our Google search histories, few of us remember to do so.

So I’m recommending that we all try Google’s new privacy tools. In May, the company introduced an option that lets us automatically delete data related to our Google searches, requests made with its virtual assistant and our location history.

On Wednesday, Google followed up by expanding the auto-delete ability to YouTube. In the coming weeks, it will begin rolling out a new private mode for when you’re navigating to a destination with its Google Maps app, which could come in handy if you’re going somewhere you want to keep secret, like a therapist’s office.

“All of this work is in service of having a great user experience,” Eric Miraglia, Google’s data protection officer, said about the new privacy features. “Part of that experience is, how does the user feel about the control they have?”

How do we best use Google’s new privacy tools? The company gave me a demonstration of the newest controls this week, and I tested the tools that it released earlier this year. Here’s what to know about them…

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