You might be able to keep secrets from your closest friends and family, but not from Google. If you’re thinking, for example, of secretly relocating or buying an engagement ring, Google will know. This tech giant gathers more information about you than you would ever share with anyone, and that can put you at risk. Read on to find out exactly what Google knows about you.
Google collects so much data about you that it can even draw a pretty clear picture of your physical appearance. It knows:
Google’s business model is based on data mining and user behavior predictions. Therefore, it uses almost every platform it has to collect information on your likes and dislikes. This data creates an accurate user profile that Google can then monetize by serving you targeted ads. So what information does Google have?
What’s wrong with targeted ads? Your user profile can be used to influence your decisions – not just what you buy, but which party or candidate you vote for and even what you believe to be true. It also puts you in a so-called ‘filter bubble’, which means that Google will only show you information that fits your profile. You can change your ad preferences by going to your settings.
Google is notorious for tracking your location and it does it through widely used apps such as Google Maps and Waze. However, disabling location tracking on these apps doesn’t mean that Google will stop tracking your location completely. It also uses a feature hidden deep in your settings called Web & App activity. It sends Google timestamps indicating your location whenever you use any Google-owned services or apps on any of your devices.
Google Photos also play a big role in location tracking. The company uses AI to group your photos into albums by analyzing your photos’ metadata and geolocation. This creates an even more accurate timeline of where you’ve been.
All of this together means that Google already knows:
Google doesn’t only want to know who you are, they also want to know who you interact with and who your friends and family are. Its facial recognition not only identifies your face but also the faces of your loved ones and even your pets. Google uses Gmail, your calendar and Google hangouts to identify who you talk to, how often, and when and where you meet.
It might seem that watching funny videos on Youtube is harmless. However, every video you’ve ever watched (or even searched for) has been noted if you did it while signed in to your Google account. Your video history can say as much about you as your Google search – your interests, your future plans, holiday destinations, etc.
The list above isn’t all. Google collects even more data:
This information also syncs between all of your devices as long as you are signed into your Google account. You can see all your searches and app activity by going to your Web & App activity page.
Google collects a lot of personal data. To see how much exactly, you can head to your account and download an archive. This might take a while, since they may have as much as 20GB of data on you.
It’s scary to know how much Google knows about you. No company should ever hold that much information about anyone. Not only is it intrusive and violates your privacy, it also creates many cybersecurity risks. This information can be used to influence elections or end up in the hands of a hacker or a third party (which Google has been caught doing).
However, your online privacy and security is in your hands and you can limit or completely eliminate Google’s surveillance if you:
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