If given a choice would you want to stop tech giants from tracking you?
If yes, in this post we are going to find out how we can stop Google and Apple from tracking us and showing personalized search results.
At this point, the idea of privacy in the digital world seems like a practical joke. As we are learning more about how tech companies are working, we see they leave no stone unturned to track us. The ways we never thought of they have already implemented them to track our digital footprints.
Be it Facebook, Google, or Apple none of them are different. Some track us in the name of giving better search results, others do that to enhance our experience. Whereas some companies like Apple say they are protecting us from being tracked and in hindsight, they are the ones tracking us. Unfortunately, this is the hard truth and we have to live with this if we want to use services offered by these companies.
Every move, every breath you take they are there following you. At this time, this fact might not disturb you, but it’s certainly not something you should be okay with, because, in the long run, it will hurt.
Therefore, to help limit the data these companies have access to, in this post, we will discuss certain steps that will help stop Google and Apple from tracking you.
Is there Anything Apple and Google Don’t Know?
At least, not in terms of your location, IP address, what you like, what interests you, where you want to travel, which restaurants you like visiting, who all are your friends, your birth date, your name, your pet’s name and beyond they know nothing.
Don’t trust me? Then tell me, how is it that your iPhone, Google Maps, Facebook, and other similar platforms automatically pull up directions for you when you are traveling? Or they know when you are heading home, which places are you planning to travel to?
It’s not that you have provided all this information. I agree some parts of it might be given but how do they know everything in such details?
Want to know how they access it, and how you can disable it or limit them? Here are the steps.
How to Stop the iPhone from tracking the location?
1. Open phone settings. For this tap the gray gear icon as shown in the screenshot below.
2. Tap Privacy.
3. Go to Location Services.
4. You will now see an option Location Services, move the slider from right to left to disable it.
5. As you do this, you’ll get a pop-up warning, notifying Location Services will be disabled for all apps, but your personalized Location Services settings for apps will be temporarily restored if you use Find My iPhone to enable Lost Mode. To confirm the action, tap “Turn Off.”
Once you make these changes, the iPhone and the apps installed will no longer be able to track your location.
In addition to this, to fine-tune things, go to the Maps and look at the locations you have visited. Tap on any city, it has been saved.
On the next screen > tap on the “Edit” button in the upper right-hand corner.That will encircle the selected location, tap on it to delete it.
Thereafter, to turn off Significant Locations altogether, scroll to the top of the page that lists the city locations.
Tap on the green button on the top-right in the tab.
Why does our Phone track us like this?
To prove their point, companies like Apple and Google give different excuses like :
- Recording location helps provide personalized services like predictive traffic routing
- It’s better-personalized results.
- Keeping track of data helps save users time.
That said, it certainly is an invasion of privacy but the way companies put it looks like it’s all done for our good. If this is what they claim, what else they might be tracking? Who knows if anyone besides these companies has access to this data?
According to Apple and Google, no one has access. They say the data recorded is always encrypted. Unless someone steals your device or has access to your account, they cannot know what data is shared with Google or Apple.
Probably it’s no surprise these tech giants, to prove their point, will say anything.
With that said, do you trust them?
What data does Google Save?
Google products including Google search saves all the search terms. Based on your Google account, this saved data is tweaked to give better results.
Regardless of whether the user wants this data to be collected or not Google always does that. Though Google says certain settings are using which you can control the data collection. But does it work? Or are they there just to make you believe you have control over how Google collects data.
Google likes to play with Users
On one hand, Google says, users can control how Google collects data, at the same time Google rolls out a new feature for Gmail users, allowing them to filter email and search results. As explained, this feature will help users find specific emails or pieces of information. But in hindsight, it seems it is another way to know what is important for us and what we look for in your emails.
The new feature will show a new preference to control “Personal results.”
If I am wrong then, why does Google clarify the new feature and say, it is to help users choose better filtering options from the drop-down list?
If you haven’t thought about things this way, this should ring a bell. Think about it, because I smell a rat here.
What is Google Personalization
Officially introduced in 2005 for Google account users, Google personalization was designed to give Google account users the ability to customize search results based on the user’s previous 180 days of search history.
But in 2009 this idea changed and now everybody using Google & its products whether signed in or not will get Google personalization results.
Be Ready To be Dragged By Google
30% of all websites use Google ads, so if you want to stay secure it’s time to turn off personalized search results through Google.
Sadly, there’s no way to stop Google from gathering data, but you can certainly use Google Chrome alternatives to limit Google from collecting data.
How does Google collect this personalized data?
To collect data & track you, Google uses a tracking cookie (which is installed on the browser), that was introduced in 2009. This cookie tracks information like –
- Search History and other personal details.
This tracking cookie tracks both Google and non-Google account users. Also, it doesn’t matter whether you are online or offline, logged in or logged out if you are using Google services you are being tracked.
Though Google says, it no longer follows this practice but that’s not what it looks like. If that’s the case why Google needs to focus on products like – Google assistant, make Gmail search results better?
Certainly, it’s not just to improve the search experience. Surely, Google is up to something. In the name of giving better search results, it seems Google is trying to collect more accurate data and share it with advertisers.
How Exactly Is Google Personalizing Searches?
For this, Google seems to use sources like:-
- Google search and web history
- Google account
- Cookie to know your IP address derived via the geolocation
Can We Stop Google And Apple From Tracking Us?
Well, if you are ready to stop using any of Google and Apple’s services, you can achieve that. However, are you ready to go off the radar?
Well, I know the answer is No. To survive in this modern world, we need to be online. However, the data collection can be minimized by using certain methods. This will help pass on a limited amount of personalized data.
How To Limit Personalized Search Results – Google?
Here’s how to stop personalized results from appearing on web searches on websites and also while watching videos.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Over the years, a myth has developed that Google Search personalizes so much that for the same query, different people might get significantly different results from each other. This isn’t the case. Results can differ, but usually for non-personalized reasons. Let’s explore…</p>— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) <a href=”https://twitter.com/searchliaison/status/1070027261376491520?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>December 4, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
Note: Disabling Personal Results, means you are saying goodbye to Google Search Features.
Before learning how to turn off personal results, here’s a list of features you will lose:
- Auto-complete predictions: Search predictions based on trends and history.
- Personal answers: based on location, activities, reminders, reservations, etc.
- Recommendations: where to travel, what to watch, nearby places, etc.
Note: Disabling personal results for Google Search won’t affect personal settings in Google Assistant, Google Maps, etc. In simple words, Google Assistant will still answer your questions based on your private data. However, you might face issues with navigation as for this, Google needs your private data (such as location and home address) stored in Google Maps.
If you are okay with this, follow the steps below to turn off Google Personalized Results.
How to Turn Off Personal Results for Google Search on Desktop
To use the following steps, sign in to your Google account and get going.
1. Visit Google’s homepage.
2. Click the Settings option present at the bottom right-hand corner.
3. Select Search settings from the context menu.
4. Under Personal results, click Manage.
5. To disable personalized results, click the toggle button.
That’s it, you are done, Google will no longer be able to use the data in your Google account to show personalized search results on your desktop.
Remember, doing so will not delete Google data. However, if you don’t want to feed any data to Google, you can do so.
Using the above steps you can stop Google from collecting data when using it on Desktop. However, what about mobile?
Worry not, follow the below-mentioned steps to stop Google Search from collecting data when using it on mobile.
How to Turn Off Personal Results for Google Search on Mobile?
1. Open Google Chrome on your smartphone.
2. Visit Google’s homepage.
3. Tap on the three stacked lines present in the top left-hand corner.
4. Tap Settings.
5. Scroll down and look for Personal results > Manage.
6. Toggle the switch from right to left. This will disable personalized results.
You will now not see personalized search results on your mobile when using Google Search.
Tip: When you disable this setting, no matter which browser you use, Google won’t be able to show personal results on google.com.
Is It Right to Disable Personal Results on Google Search?
It depends on the user whether they want to disable personal search results or not. In some cases, personalized results are of great help and they help save time. But when researching a sensitive topic, disabling personalized results is advised as it shields users from being targeted. Doing so also ensures that the research is not affected by unwanted influence.
How to Temporarily disable Personalized Search Results?
To do so follow the steps below:
1. Launch Google Chrome.
2. Click the three stacked dots in the top right of Chrome > Settings.
3. From the left pane, select Search engine > Manage search engines.
4. Next, click Add > and enter the following information into the specified fields:
- Search engine – Personalization off – Google
- Keyword – per
- URL – http://www.google.com/search?pws=0&q=%s
5. When done, click Add.
Now to get unbiased results each time, you search you need to use the ‘per’ keyword at the beginning. Doing so will redirect you to a personalized search URL.
OUR INTERNET HISTORY AFFECTS GOOGLE SEARCH RESULTS
Should a user be concerned
Certainly, one should be because Google will always show you what it seems is right for you. Irrespective of what you want, based on the collected data, the search results will always be personalized. This means you might never find what you look for as Google has restricted the search results without you knowing about it.
This certainly conflicts with privacy but it also limits search results. Due to this, when two people look for the same thing with the same keyword they get different results. Thereby, showing what Google thinks is right.
If this hasn’t concerned you until now, it’s time to pay attention and act.
Follow the above steps to limit the collection of personalized data done by Google
In the end, I can only say your privacy is in your hands. Using the guide, you can limit Google from showing personalized ads and search results But, this won’t stop Google and Apple as they are part of the majority of most average internet activity.
To get further control, try using alternative web browsers like DuckDuckGo, Tor, etc. Use a VPN like Systweak VPN and avoid creating a Google account. If you are an Android user, try using Private Browser Care – a browser that automatically opens tabs in incognito mode.
Unluckily, even with these measures companies like Google, Facebook, and might still be able to profile you. However, this can be limited with the right precautions. So stop thinking, you cannot do anything to stop these tech giants from tracking you, reading digital footprints, and so on. If you are cautious enough and pay attention to what’s written between the lines, enable services only when required and grant access diligently, tech giants can be controlled from collecting data. Hope we made our point clear and you have understood how to stop Google and Apple from tracking you.