Google has launched a My Activity website that shows users their activity on the internet.
A user gets ads displayed on their computer based on their previous searches, YouTube videos watched and other Google-related history. My Activity is an expansion of Google's tracking system but customers can choose to opt-in.
The latest My Activity tool displays a timeline of previously watched YouTube videos, voice searches, visited websites and more. Google will send a notification to users directing them to check their security settings.
"My Activity is a central place to view and manage activity like searches you've done, websites you've visited, and videos you've watched," says Google. "Your activity is listed as individual items, starting with the most recent. These items might be part of bundles, which group similar activity together."
Google will also ask users if they want personalized ads related to a specific age or gender. By opting in, Google users will be allowed to edit as well as block ads across devices that are logged in with a Google account.
The latest move from Google is very significant as many ad networks that are run by other companies need users to opt out of personalization.
Ads are a major source of online revenue for many websites; however, many internet users do not like ads popping up while browsing the web. Ad-blocking tools have witnessed a tremendous growth and Google's My Activity is another way of ad-blocking. Making the feature opt-in makes the company safe against criticism over privacy practices.
"This setting gives Google permission to use your Google Account activity and information on Google services (ex: Search, YouTube) as well as you browsing data from websites and apps that partner with Google," says the Google notification. "You can turn this option off by unchecking the box after Ads Personalization is turned on."
My Activity can be helpful to users who want particular details of their previously visited websites and viewed YouTube videos. Google users also have the option of deleting specific entries from their My Activity timeline.
The opt-in feature is also being praised by many internet users.
"The fact that it's an option, and that the user has to think through some of the account, and ad, and other implications of it, is really the best thing about it," says Brenda Leong, of the Future of Privacy Forum.
Google users can visit Google Support page to get more information on My Activity.
Photo: Ben Nuttall | Flickr