Every move you make whilst browsing the various wonders of the internet, is logged. Using online services such as social media and search engines creates your own personal online footprint.
Thankfully, a lot of the major players now allow you to download certain information that they’ve collected on you. Here’s how to access your collected data on some of the internet’s biggest sites.
Search History- Google
Google recently implemented a process to allow users to download their entire internet search history (or at least searches done using Google’s search engine). To get hold of it, you need to get to your account history.
First, log into your Google Account. Click on your account icon in the top right corner, and then head to “My Account”. Once there, click “Account history” which is located under the heading “Personal info and Privacy”.
On Account History, click the link labelled “MANAGE ACTIVITY”. Up pops a page containing a scrollable list of all your search history- all of which is downloadable. To do so click the “open menu” button at the top of the screen, and choose “Download searches”.
Click “CREATE ARCHIVE”, and Google beams you over a downloadable copy of the entire search history of that account.
Elsewhere on Google
For everything else, Google have built a handy tool named “Google Takeout”. The steps to accessing it are much the same as above. Head back to the “Personal info and Privacy” page. This time choose “Control your content” from the left hand side, and click “CREATE ARCHIVE”.
Bringing you to the Takeout Dashboard, you can now access stored data on a wide variety of familiar Google services. Tick each and every service you wish to include in the archive and click “Next”. Select your file type and delivery method, and hit “Create archive”.
Social Media- Facebook
Facebook are notorious for collecting data on your various goings on when logged on, but you can actually access a great amount of that data.
To get the ball rolling, head into your settings (click the downward arrow in the top right of your screen). At the bottom of your General Account Settings will be a small link titled “Download a copy of your Facebook data”.
Click “Start My Archive”, enter your password and Facebook will begin gathering all the data they have gathered during your time on the site. Aside from all your posts, uploaded photos and likes, the archive actually goes into a striking amount of detail. Everything from check-ins, the ads you’ve clicked on and even chat logs are all stored on Facebook’s servers (you can find out more in our article “What does Facebook know about me?”).
Social Media- Twitter
Twitter have had an archive feature active since late 2012, and accessing your back catalogue of tweets is also remarkably simple.
Click on your profile icon in the top right corner, and hit “Settings”. At the bottom, you’ll see a section named “Your Twitter archive”. Click on “Request your archive”, and Twitter will email you a link to a further webpage. Hit “Download” and a .zip file will begin downloading onto your system.