Location tracking can be very handy — it’s convenient when an app can tell you, say, where the near restaurants or gas stations are — but it’s also a privacy issue. Do you want all your wanderings registered by Google? Are you comfortable knowing that Mark Zuckerberg’s minions know where you are at all times? (Well, not that Mark Zuckerberg has minions, but you know what I mean.)
In this article, we’ll take a look at how to stop location tracking on your Android phone and how to delete your location history from your OS and from some of the more popular apps. As always, note that versions of Android can differ, and many manufacturers use overlays as well, which can change the locations of various commands — but they should be similar enough for you to be able to find your way. For these instructions, I’ve used a Pixel phone running Android 10.
Stop Google from tracking you, period.
You probably know that Google can track your location and movements through its Google Maps app. But you may not realize that your Android phone is also tracking your movements and activities through several other built-in apps.
If you really don’t want your phone to be tracking any of your movements and activities, there is a way to turn tracking off for all (well, most) of them. You just need to be aware that you’re probably going to render many of your apps (such as ride-share apps, weather apps, and, of course, mapping apps) less usable — or in some cases, completely unusable.
Stop Google tracking using a browser
Go to https://myactivity.google.com/. Select “Activity Controls,” found in the left-hand menu. Scroll down through the various activities and choose any you’d like to turn off. Google’s activity controls let you turn off tracking.
This may take a while, especially if you want to do some research into what you’ll be affecting. Activities listed that would reveal your location include “Web & App Activity” (which covers anything you’ve done on Google apps and services) and “Location History” (where you’ve gone with your device). You’ll probably want to check off “Include audio recordings,” which is under “Web & App Activity.”
As long as you’re here, you can also delete “Device Information” (info about contacts, calendars, etc.), “YouTube History” (which includes both your search and watch history), and “Ad personalization” (which uses your history to choose which ads you’ll see).
You’ve prevented any more data from being gathered. But now you may want to delete all or some of the information that’s already been collected.
Go back to the My Activity page and click on “Delete activity by” in the left-hand menu. You’ll get a pop-up window that lets you delete your activity based on time period: the last hour, last day, “All time” (in other words, all dates), or “Custom range” for a specific date range. A pop-up window that lets you delete your activity based on time period. If you choose either “All time” or “Custom range,” you can then filter that info depending on services (such as ads, Chrome, Google Play Store, etc.). When you’re ready, click on “Next.” You can filter your info depending on services. You’ll then get a preview of some of the activities that will be deleted. If you’re okay with that, select “Delete.” The last step before you delete your activity.
Stop Google tracking on an Android device
Go to Settings. Find “Accounts” and tap on your Google email account. If there’s more than one account listed, tap on the one you want to change. Tap on “Google Account.” Scroll down to “Manage your data & personalization” and select it. Look under “Activity controls.” Here, as with the browser version, you can turn off or pause the monitoring of various activities. If you want more granular control of your activities, you can scroll down and select “Manage your activity controls.” You’ll now have access to a page very similar to the “Activity Controls” webpage. Grid View Look for the gear in your Timeline to delete your location history. As with the mobile app, you’ll get a pop-up window that asks you to check a box saying that you understand that some of your apps may not work properly. Check the box and select “Delete Location History.” You’ll be asked to confirm the history deletion.
Delete your location history on Facebook
Facebook does keep a separate history of your locations, and if you want to delete that history, you can do it through the mobile app or the browser.
Using the Android app
In the Facebook app, tap the hamburger (three parallel lines) in the top right corner. Scroll down and tap on “Settings & Privacy.” Tap on “Settings.” Scroll down and tap on “Location” (which is under the “Privacy” subhead). This will take you to the “Location Settings” page. Tap on “Location History” to take you to the next page, where you can permit or refuse Facebook permission to save your location history. If you want to delete your existing location history, tap on “View your Location History” and enter your password (if asked). Tap on the three dots in the upper right corner. You can now either “Delete this day” or “Delete all location history.” Tap on the latter. It will ask you if you’re sure — if you are, tap on “OK.” Back on the “Location Settings” page, you can tap on “Location Access” to turn location access off or only turn it on while using the app. Grid View Select “Manage your location settings” under the “Privacy” category. On the “Location Settings” page, click on the “View your Location History” button. The “Location Settings” page lets you view your history, delete it, and stop recording it. Then click on the three dots in the upper right corner. As with the mobile app, you can now either “Delete this day” or “Delete all location history.” Delete your day’s history or your entire history. On the “Location Settings” page, you can also turn your location history on or off for your mobile devices.
Delete your location history on Twitter
Twitter makes it relatively simple to turn off its location tracking within the Android app.
Tap on your personal icon in the upper left of the home screen. Tap on “Settings and privacy.” Tap on “Privacy and safety.” Scroll down until you see “Precise location” and tap on it. You can then uncheck the box that gives Twitter permission to collect your GPS and other location information. Grid View
You can delete your Twitter location history as well, but only from your browser.
Go to your Twitter account, click on the three dots in the left column and on “Settings and privacy.” Select “Settings and privacy.” On the left-hand menu, click on “Privacy and safety.” Select “Location information.” Click on “Location information.” If you’ve got “Add location information to my Tweets” checked, uncheck it. Then click on “Delete all location information.” And if it asks: yes, you are sure. You can stop adding location information and delete all saved information.
Update August 25th, 2020, 2:37PM ET: This article was originally published on April 12th, 2019; it has been updated to include the update from Android 9 to Android 10, along with changes to various web-based applications.