Tech Guide

This iPhone app makes it easier to quickly delete some of what Twitter, Google and Facebook know about you

Key Points
  • A new iPhone app called Jumbo gives you more control over your privacy.
  • It can automatically delete old Tweets, change your Facebook security settings and delete your Google search history.
  • It's a nice one-stop shop for giving yourself a quick security checkup, but it isn't perfect.
Getty Images

A new app for the iPhone named Jumbo will automatically delete old tweets on Twitter, apply Facebook privacy settings, and delete history stored by Google and Amazon Alexa.

It's not perfect, but it's a decent tool for people who don't know how to limit information provided to some of the web's most popular services.

And new features, like the ability to clear old Instagram videos and pictures or delete old Tinder chat messages, are coming soon.

Here's how it works.

This is the main screen of Jumbo, where you can choose to manage data from Twitter, Facebook, Google search and Amazon Alexa. Instagram and Tinder tools are coming soon.

Jumbo for iPhone
Todd Haselton | CNBC

Delete your old tweets

Jumbo for iPhone
Todd Haselton | CNBC

This is good if you have a public Twitter profile and don't want people to go back through years of random things you've tweeted about, which might appear silly today.

Unlike some other services, Jumbo lets you create a backup of old tweets and save them to your iPhone. (Dropbox and iCloud backups are coming soon.) Just log in, give it permission to read your tweets, which it needs to delete them, and tap "connect."

You're not finished yet. Next, choose Facebook, Google Search or Alexa. I'll walk you through those, or just skip down to the last section, "Start Cleaning."

Now move on to Facebook.

Automatically set your Facebook security settings

Jumbo for iPhone
Todd Haselton | CNBC

I chose the strong setting, which the apps says means "Most of your Facebook information will be only visible by you. Jumbo will disable face recognition and restrict ads. Also, Jumbo never changes a setting to a less restrictive option."

This is a step in the right direction, but Facebook collects a lot of information, and Jumbo could probably be a bit more clear in its language that "only visible to you" means your data is still available for Facebook to see, just not other users. After all, Facebook knows an awful lot about you.

Clear your Google Search history

Jumbo for iPhone
Todd Haselton | CNBC

Jumbo automatically clears your Google Search history, too. This is just scratching the surface of what Google knows about you, though, especially if you use services such as Google Maps which keep a log of everywhere you go. But if you've never deleted your Google Search history, this is a good place to get started.

Tap the button and you'll see an option to delete all searches, which Jumbo recommends. You can also delete searches from the last day, last week or last month. Next, log in with Google.

Delete your Alexa voice recordings

Jumbo for iPhone
Todd Haselton | CNBC

Jumbo will also automatically delete all of the voice recordings stored in Amazon Alexa. This means all of the clips of you speaking to Alexa and asking it to do things, like turn off the lights or check the weather. Just log in with your Amazon account, and Jumbo says it will do the rest for you. (Spoiler: It didn't work for me.)

Start cleaning

Jumbo for iPhone
Todd Haselton | CNBC

OK, now that you've gone through the steps above to automatically delete tweets, set your privacy settings to "strong" on Facebook and logged into your Google and Amazon accounts, it's time to get to cleaning. Tap the button at the bottom of the screen that says "Start Cleaning."

Jumbo begins "scrubbing your online activity" while you wait. Don't close the app while it's doing this, otherwise it won't completely finish. It only took about a minute for me, but it could take longer if you have a lot of data to scrub.

Jumbo for iPhone
Todd Haselton | CNBC

I double-checked on my computer, and my Google search history was cleared. My old tweets were deleted. My Facebook account was secure but, again, there's still plenty of data, such as the ads I've clicked on, which Jumbo isn't able to access and delete. One problem? It didn't delete my Alexa voice history, all of which was still visible inside the Alexa app on my phone.

Jumbo isn't perfect, but for people who don't want to go through thousands of old tweets or don't know how to quickly set Facebook privacy settings, this is a good tool. It's clearly limited by what Facebook and other companies allow you to delete from outside their systems, but it's better than ignoring privacy settings or never clearing your Google Search history in the first place.

Eventually, I'd really like to see this sort of automatic function built into apps made by companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon and Apple that let you completely delete everything that you've ever done on those services at the press of a button.

How to find out everything that Google knows about you