It's easy to underestimate how much information we hand to Google every time we use its search engine.
Did you know that every search item or link you click on Google is recorded? Don't panic -- it helps Google figure out which ads to show you. It's better to see ads you might be interested in than ones you would never click, it claims.
But what if your browser is left logged in and someone looks at your search history? The breadcrumbs could lead to an accurate (or indeed, inaccurate) picture of your interests, health, sexual orientation or religion. You know, things you might prefer to keep private.
For example, you might talk about football on Google+, then visit YouTube and find it recommending football videos. This seems genius, but some people might find it recommending videos on cancer treatments because they searched the topic in private. Not ideal when a mate insists on watching cat videos at your place.
Thankfully, jettisoning your search history is quick and easy, and you can stop years of your searches appearing in odd places around Google's sites if you complete it before 1 March.
- Sign in to your Google account.
- Visit google.com/history. It will display your entire search history, showing all your search terms and the sites you clicked through to. Creepy, right?
- You don't have to delete your entire search history. If you prefer, you can delete specific items with the checkboxes on the left. If you want to just nuke the lot, hit 'remove all web history'.
- If you're sure you want to go ahead, click 'OK'. We mouthed the noise of a bomb going off too, but this is optional.
Kaboom! You're done. There's no need to check back in the future; Google will pause your search records unless you return and switch it on again.
Note that Google still has all your search history on record -- it'll just use it for its own internal purposes rather than to tailor the ads it shows you.