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3/31/2014
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How To Delete Facebook, Google, Twitter Search Data

Social networks make millions off your data, but they don't need to know everything. Here's how to clear your search history from three top sites.

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LinkedIn Tips: 10 Steps To A Stronger Profile
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Social networks have become an integral part of our online lives: They're how we stay connected to friends, how many of us find new job opportunities, and how more people stay up to date on news. And while you're probably wary about how much personal information you share, social networks know more about you than you think.

From the moment you sign up for a social networking account, the site collects droves of data about you: your birthday, email address, age, browsing habits, likes, dislikes, and your interests, for example. Some sites track the videos you've watched, location from where you last logged on, and even your search history.

That, of course, is the price you pay for using free services, and that's how companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter make their millions. While there are limits to what information you can prevent social networks from gathering about you, many sites give you options to delete your search history. Here's how you can remove this information from your Facebook, Google, and Twitter accounts.

1. Delete your Facebook search history
Facebook keeps track of everything you search for on the social network, including people and pages. While you don't have much control over the other tidbits Facebook collects and stores about you and your habits, you can clear your search history.

[Tidy up your Facebook account. Read 5 Facebook Spring Cleaning Tips.]

To start, navigate to your Activity Log. This shows you all your recent Facebook activity, such as photos you commented on, pages you liked, and searches you performed using Graph Search. Click More from the left-side navigation, then click Search. Your entire search history will load, provided you have never deleted it before.

From here, you can remove individual searches by clicking the Block icon and selecting Remove. If you want to clear all of it, click the Clear Searches link at the top.

2. Delete your Google search history.
When you search while logged into your Google account, it tracks all your queries and your Web history. There are several ways you can approach clearing this data.

To delete individual past searches, visit your Web History page while logged into your Google account. Use the search box at the top of the page to filter it by categories like Web, images, and video. Check the box next to the searches you want to remove and click "Remove items" at the top of the page.

To delete all past searches, visit your Web History page and click the gear icon, then Settings. Click "Delete all," then click the "Delete all" button to confirm.

To turn off your Web history to prevent future searches from being stored, visit your Web History page, click the gear icon, then click Settings. Click "Turn off" to stop Google from tracking your Web history.

3. Delete your Twitter search history.
Twitter tracks your searches on your mobile device, and it stores your location information. Luckily, you can clear your search history, delete your location information, and disable this setting.

To clear your search history on iOS and Android, click the magnifying glass search icon. Below "Recent searches" is a list of your latest queries. To delete these, tap the x next to "Recent searches," then tap Clear.

To delete your location information and turn off this feature, navigate to your Settings, then click the Security and Privacy tab. Next to "Tweet location," uncheck the box beside "Add a location to my Tweets" to opt out of this feature. To delete all location information from past tweets, click the button below that.

Too many companies treat digital and mobile strategies as pet projects. Here are four ideas to shake up your company. Also in the Digital Disruption issue of InformationWeek: Six enduring truths about selecting enterprise software. (Free registration required.)

Kristin Burnham currently serves as InformationWeek.com's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and CIO.com, most recently as senior ... View Full Bio

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Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
4/24/2014 | 9:58:56 AM
Re: If You Don't Do It They Can't Record It
To be clear, that's not to say that people shouldn't engage at all or contribute information/data to social networks -- but, rather, to be proactive about taking control of one's online data -- appropriately marshalling what one provides and building upon it, while still keeping private that data which should be kept private.
Jim Donahue
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Jim Donahue,
User Rank: Moderator
4/2/2014 | 9:59:57 AM
Re: If You Don't Do It They Can't Record It
Yup. I now pretend the entire universe could read my posts before I hit "post." If I'm not comfortable with that, I don't post.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
4/2/2014 | 9:34:45 AM
Re: If You Don't Do It They Can't Record It
Kristin, 

How funny that story is. :) It's true. Generally, the ones who were too privacy conscious at the beginning of the social network era turned into the first ones to have a Foursquare account and broadcast their location. 

-Susan 
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
4/2/2014 | 8:04:15 AM
Re: If You Don't Do It They Can't Record It
I tend to agree, Susan. One example: When my dad first joined Facebook, he lectured my sister and me endlessly about how dangerous the site is and how it can fuel crime and break-ins (which it can, especially if you're not careful about what you share and with whom you share it). Fast forward a few years, and now my once-privacy-conscious dad is the first one to check us into a restaurant, etc, when we go out to dinner. (We have also helped him with his privacy settings, which probably assuaged some of his fears.)
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
4/2/2014 | 7:59:03 AM
Re: If You Don't Do It They Can't Record It
The best way to approach social networking is to assume that nothing is private [...]


Exactly. And while that's not how most social networks want you to use them -- the more info you share, the better, in their minds -- it's the safest way for consumers to operate.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
4/1/2014 | 10:25:53 AM
Re: If You Don't Do It They Can't Record It
Kristin

"How often do people use settings like these to remove their info -- and if rarely, are people getting more used to being tracked online? Will this be a nonissue in the future?"

It's pretty likely that this will be a nonissue in the future. If you see data, and behaviour from the younger generations they are much less concerned about sharing information online.

Data collection is becoming so common that at some point most people will not worry about it anymore. It's not only information, it's location, seach history, and vistually everything we do online is captured in one way, or another. 

-Susan  
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2014 | 11:15:22 PM
Re: If You Don't Do It They Can't Record It
Being a writer and legal consultant in the tech sector, and surrounding myself with tech news every day, it's interesting to me to compare my own experiences and ways of thinking with that of others.  In my world, OF COURSE you change your settings so the minimum amount of data is retained -- and displayed to others, OF COURSE you restrict cookies, etc., etc..

But then I talk to my friends and family who live in the real world with the rest of the non-techies, and they just don't think about it that much.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2014 | 11:12:26 PM
Re: If You Don't Do It They Can't Record It
@majenkins: This is an excellent point.  Just because you "delete" the data/history does not mean that it's entirely wiped from Facebook's/Google's/Twitter's/etc. servers.

The best way to approach social networking is to assume that nothing is private -- and either avoid it entirely, or proactively and mindfully take control of the data you provide.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2014 | 11:06:39 PM
Re: If You Don't Do It They Can't Record It
Even keeping yourself from logging in may not protect you.  I have to clean Google spyware "cookies" off of my machine all the time just from visiting the site and doing Web searches, and checking out YouTube videos.

I'd switch entirely to one of Google's competitors, but Google's search engine is still far and away the best IMHO.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
3/31/2014 | 8:21:47 PM
Re: If You Don't Do It They Can't Record It
Ha, that's certainly one way to look at it. I do wonder, though: How often do people use settings like these to remove their info -- and if rarely, are people getting more used to being tracked online? Will this be a nonissue in the future?
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