How Google’s location-tracking issue affects you

Watching Twitter and Facebook commit reputational suicide over the past 20 months has been as painful as it has been entertaining — entertaining in the sense that all anyone had to do was let the companies be themselves. The cost has been terrible, on democracy, the free press, at-risk populations and soon, I’ll wager, on the economy. Still, it’s hard not stay glued to our screens, waiting to see what awful things Facebook and Twitter do to us next.

While we’ve been perversely absorbed by the epic-scale human rights incompetencies of Facebook and Twitter (and trying not to get, you know, murdered, jailed or exiled as a byproduct of the platforms), we kind of forgot about some of the other born-yesterday stewards of humanity. Like Google. Which has apparently been playing fast and loose with the whole “we don’t track your location” thing.

This week, the Associated Press published the findings of its investigation showing that Google tracks your locations even if you’ve shut off the Location History setting — which is what the company says to do if you don’t want Google tracking you. Google’s Manage or delete your Location History page states, “You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.”