Here’s What Google Maps Timeline Knows About You (And It’s More Than You Think)

Picture of Hodgson Consulting & Solutions

Hodgson Consulting & Solutions

It’s 10:00 p.m. – do you know where your children are? Google probably does. Thanks to Google Maps’ Timeline feature, the tech company probably knows where your whole family has been – down to the GPS coordinates. The feature was first rolled out in 2015 on Android devices and two years later on Apple, but many people still don’t know how much information the app actually collects. Before you hit the road this holiday season, take a minute to review your privacy settings to see if the risk is worth the benefits.

What Google Maps Timeline Can See

With Google Maps Timeline, you can go back to any day and see in detail where you were, when, and for how long. For example, the map will show you when you left work, got home, and any pit stops you made. It can also tell if you traveled by bike, car, train, or bus. If you haven’t changed the settings, this information may have been stored for YEARS. This kind of tracking is helpful if you forget the name of that new lunch place you visited last month with the great chicken wrap. However, if you care about your privacy and prefer not to have your home address or daily jogging routine under Google’s watchful eye, you need to turn this feature OFF.

Pros And Cons

Under the guise of being a digital assistant, Google collects that information to make your life easier. At the same time, it’s creating detailed profiles of all of us. In some ways, this makes our lives easier. In other ways, it invites severe risks.



How To Turn Tracking OFF

If you don’t feel like having Google’s eyes on your every move, follow these steps on one of your devices to update the settings. Here’s how to do it from your computer:

Change Settings Using Your Computer:

Log in to your Google account.
Tap your profile icon or initials and select “Manage Your Google Account.”
Click on “Data & Privacy.”
Scroll to “History Settings” and select “Location History.”
Pause your history.
BONUS TIP: Delete your timeline history by going to Maps Timeline, “Manage Location History,” and selecting an auto-delete option.

Tips For Using Google Timeline

If the benefits outweigh the risks for you or your family, do two things. First, define a timeline to delete stored data. You can delete your location history after 3, 18, or 36 months – or keep it forever (which we don’t recommend). Once you pick an option to remove the data, Google is legally obligated to delete it.
Second, use MFA on your devices and accounts so that even if someone finds your phone or hacks your account, they can’t get in. Take control of your privacy and review this buried feature in Google’s Maps app!

Share Post: