Google tracking all your online purchases through Gmail

By Digit NewsDesk | Updated May 19 2019
Google tracking all your online purchases through Gmail
HIGHLIGHTS

Google cataloguing Gmail users' purchase history

No way to mass delete purchase history for now

Google says the feature is just to help users keep track of their purchases

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Google, as it turns out, has been cataloging and recording users’ entire online shopping history, a record of which can be found deep within the Google Dashboard. The ‘Purchases’ page isn’t all that easy to access, but once you do get to it, you will find your entire online shopping history chronicled there.

Google has been collecting this information based on the receipts that come into your Gmail inbox. This means that the catalog doesn’t only include purchases made online but could also include offline purchases if the vendor prefers to send the receipts to your inbox. For this writer, the purchase history goes back all the way to May 2014. Some journalists are reporting that Google is also recording an uncanny amount of detail from these receipts, like what vegetables to leave out in a food order.

In a statement mailed to Buzzfeed, Google said: “To help you easily view and keep track of your purchases, bookings and subscriptions in one place, we’ve created a private destination that can only be seen by you. You can delete this information at any time. We don’t use any information from your Gmail messages to serve you ads, and that includes the email receipts and confirmations shown on the Purchase page. We're always working to help people understand and manage their data.”

Currently, there is no way to mass delete your purchase history, and you must do it one painful item at a time. You can, however, turn the feature off. If you want to see your own purchase history, click here and if you want to prevent Google from cataloguing your purchase history, click here. Just toggle “Do not use private results” and this should stop Google from cataloguing your information.

The fact that Google goes through the contents of users’ inbox isn’t new, but the company has always claimed to do so in order to provide an improved user experience. For example, the reminders you get for an upcoming flight are thanks to the fact that those flight tickets arrived in your Gmail inbox. However, the purchase history catalogue so far has not served any user-facing purpose. Additionally, given how deep it is buried in settings, and that it is missing a mass delete feature, just raises more questions about the company’s intentions for the feature.

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Digit NewsDesk

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