Google just gave Chrome users a little feature with big implications: You can now download your search history. It might seem silly—and somewhat frightening—to download a massive file containing everything you have searched for since enabling the web history setting, but the list is an interesting peek into how Google sees you.
To download your search history, go to your Google account’s Web & Activity page, click the cog in the top right, and click “Download.” Google will warn you with a pop-up not to download to a public computer and to set up two-stage verification—and if you don’t take the security of your search history as seriously as Google does, you haven’t been paying attention.
There are many things Google can do with your search history, from personalizing advertisements to combining many search histories to find patterns, which a political science professor did to discover that 3 million to 4 million people could not register to vote in 2012 due to sketchy voter registration restrictions. Google even tries to predict who you are based on your search history, though its guesses are often a bit off-base. Even if Google doesn’t have a perfectly accurate demographic profile of you, it still has a good idea of your desires and habits.
Being able to download the raw output that gets fed into Google’s analytics may not sound like a fun Friday night. But at least it is there, part of Google’s Takeout project, which launched in 2011 to let you download the personal data collected by Google services like Gmail and YouTube. Other services have similar raw activity dumps, VentureBeat points out, with Twitter letting you download your tweeting history and Facebook letting you download your profile history archive. While it can be fun to look at this data yourself, these archives should be a sobering reminder of how much personal information we share every time we use the Internet.
This article was written by David Lumb from Fast Company and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.