18 May 2019: Google even tracks your purchases: Here's how to delete it
Just like Facebook, Google also collects our personal data to improve the experience of its services and, of course, to serve ads.
On one hand, Google promises to offer better ways to let users manage the data it collects. But as it turns out, it stores more information than you could ever imagine.
(New) case in point: your online purchases.
Here's all about it.
Issue: Google is tracking, logging your purchases
In a recent report, CNBC highlighted a hard-to-notice 'purchases' tab buried in Google account settings.
The option, accessed from https://myaccount.google.com/purchases, shows a detailed log of things you have purchased online, starting from physical products like clothes and lunch meals to digital items like a music subscription or booking.
It doesn't show everything you have purchased but a lot of it - going back years.
Reason: So, what's happening here
Google's eerily detailed log looks like a way of tracking the shopping habits of people, but in essence, it is a result of the digital receipts you receive.
These receipts go to Gmail, and from there, Google adds your purchases into a log.
So, basically, the search giant knows whatever you purchased, be it in the last week or last year.
Deletion: And, deleting this information is not so easy
For obvious reasons, many of you wouldn't want to share your shopping history with Google.
But, here's the thing, Google doesn't let you delete or clear this information, at least not directly.
You can't clear the entire shopping log at once; items have to be deleted individually, and that too by going back to the source email and deleting it.
Fact: So, to delete purchase history, you need to delete email
This means that in order to clear the purchases, you will have to find and delete emails individually. This can be really annoying, especially when you want to keep email receipts, perhaps for future returns. Even Google's activity controls don't allow deletion of this data.
Use: Is Google using this information for serving ads?
A Google spokesperson told CNBC that the information stored in this log is removable and isn't used for advertising.
"You can delete this information at any time," the representative said. "We don't use any information from your Gmail messages to serve you ads, and that includes the email receipts and confirmations shown on the Purchase page."
Fact: Way to help users track purchases at one place
The spokesperson added that the option is a way "to help you easily view and keep track of your purchases, bookings, and subscriptions in one place, we've created a private destination that can only be seen by you."