In an ongoing effort to be more transparent about how user data is stored and shared, Google will now send you an Account Activity report to your Gmail account that summarizes everything that happened while you were logged into the service. Most importantly, it will tell you if your account has been frequented by someone other than you and Google.
Launched on Wednesday, the report service collects data from across the Google-sphere, like your Google search history, the number of emails you’ve exchanged through Gmail and with whom; and the devices you’ve used to log in. You can opt to have the highlights sent to your Gmail account to show you what this looks like.
Most of the information should look familiar, like the search terms you’ve looked up and the people you’ve emailed the most.
You can also find web pages, images, videos and news stories that you’ve viewed, which times you’re most active on the site, and other browsing trends. (A humbling feature that would be even better if they also had a tool for making colorful infographics based on this data.)
But before you get to any of that, take a look at your account sign-ins. It will show you the locations, browsers, and devices you’ve used to log in. If they don’t look familiar to you, that’s a dead giveaway that you’ve been hacked. If that’s the case, change your password immediately and if you want, sign up for Google’s two-step verification process.
As for your search history, you can click “Remove” to clear a selected topic or “Remove all Web History” to delete everything if you don’t want this data to influence the kinds of ads you see. This is always an option in your Web browser, but it’s something that’s very easy to forget to do.
The Internet has been learning about you for years. Now it’s your turn to learn about yourself through the eyes of the Internet. Will you opt in?
Image by Schotter Studio via Shutterstock.