Feb. 28, 2012 at 2:53 PM ET
You've probably heard that starting March 1, Google is going to unify all your privacy data from your various accounts, such as Gmail, YouTube and Web searches. What that means, in part, is that your past Web searches could become part of a big pot of information that's out there for Google to use to establish better profiles of its users for advertisers.
Still, it doesn't hurt to wipe some things off your personal data map, including your searches. To get started, first, go to: Google.com/history. There, you will log in, using your Google sign-in.
Once you're logged in, you may be surprised by what you see -- I know I was. I found a history of all my searches, dating back to April 2007. My search history then showed I was doing research on various Palm products for myself (I went on to buy the Treo and still think of it fondly to this day, but don't necessarily want that info used in some weird way):
While I have nothing to hide about these particular searches -- obviously I'm sharing this portion with you here -- I'm not so sure about the rest of the nearly 5 years' worth.
So, to wipe out all of that, click "Remove all Web history." You'll be asked, "Are you sure you want to clear your entire web history?" If you do, click the "OK" box. And with that -- you are done.
If you're concerned about your YouTube search history, you can follow these steps outlined by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
But be advised, says the EFF, that "disabling Viewing and Search History in your YouTube account will not prevent Google from gathering and storing this information and using it for internal purposes. It also does not change the fact that any information gathered and stored by Google could be sought by law enforcement."