Google may have a hidden map that tracks everywhere you’ve been.
The tracker highlights your real-world movements for millions of users — but can be turned off, if you know how.
It’s possible that Google is tracking your movements without you even realizing you’ve signed up for it.
This is all linked to a system called Google Location History.
It’s an account-wide service that logs your movements by using your smartphone.
For it to work to its maximum effect, you need to be signed into a Google account with Location History and Location Reporting turned on.
It’s designed to be helpful: Google can give you better service if it knows where you’ve been.
This means you can get more detailed commute advice, recommendations based on other places you’ve visited, and more relevant ads.
But it’s fair to say many of us don’t want Google to keep a rolling record of our movements.
There are major privacy risks when it comes to storing details of everywhere you’ve been online.
This privacy tradeoff is why Google Location History is turned off by default — activated only with your permission.
But it’s common for users to accidentally enable Google Location History through Google Maps.
Importantly, you may not realize exactly what you’ve signed up for.
How to check Google Location History
There are a few different ways to check your Google Location History.
Quickest and easiest is to just follow this link to the Google Maps Timeline:
This will show exactly where you’ve been on a given day.
And it can even track your methods of travel, as well as the times you were at specific locations.
If you’re using the Google Maps app, go into the menu and select Your Timeline.
You may find the results shocking if you’ve had Google Location History turned on for several years without realizing.
Suddenly finding that Google is hosting an extremely detailed map tracking years of your real-world movements can be very creepy.
Fortunately, it’s possible to turn the feature off.
How to turn Google Location History off
You can turn off Google Location History at any time.
Turn it off here:
However, to truly stop Google from tracking you, you’ll also need to turn off Web & Activity Tracking.
You can see your tracked location markers here:
Unfortunately, these location markers are intermingled with a host of other information, so it’s tricky to locate (and delete them).
To turn it off, simply click the above link, then head to Activity Controls.
From there, you’ll be able to turn off Web & Activity Tracking across all Google sites, apps and services.
This story was originally published on the Sun and was reproduced here with permission.