What Does Google Know About Me?

05 June 2018

The recent Facebook scandal has seen an influx of people deleting their Facebook accounts and becoming more aware of how their data is being used by companies that, ten years ago, you’d happily hand over without a second thought.

The recently introduced GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) legislation in the EU – which focuses on the use of exporting personal data – has also heightened the attention that companies who handle large amounts of personal data are receiving.

But what about one of the biggest data collection companies in the world?  One that anyone connected to the internet uses almost every day.  What exactly, does Google know about you?

Google knows what you like

In a few words, Google knows basically everything about you depending on how reliant you are on its services.  Potentially, it knows where you’ve been, what you like, what you’ve been cooking and even who you’ve been meeting with.  While it might sound like an estranged ex-partner has been stalking you, from Google’s point of view, they probably think they’re just trying to improve your quality of life. 

You might think differently though.

It knows what you’re interested in

Through a history of Google searching, your location and your age, Google puts together a range of services and activities that you like and sends you targeted adverts based on it.  These relevant ads should, in theory, be ones that you want to see.  For example, if you’ve been looking for new running shoes, then you’ll be inundated across the internet by running shoes, in the hope that you’ll buy some.

If you don’t believe us, then try it.  Search for something obscure and within hours you’ll find websites that you normally visit are chock full of whatever item you looked for.

If you want to see what Google thinks you like, then you can see that information here:

http://www.google.com/settings/ads/

Google knows where you’ve been

If you’re using an Android phone then it may have been sending your location to Google, keeping a record of your visit to Giuseppe’s Italian Restaurant last November.  Even if you have an iPhone, if you’ve been using Google Maps instead of the (not so good) Apple Maps, then Google will, again, be tracking where you go.

In fact, why don’t you see for yourself?  Here’s where Google thinks (or knows) you’ve been:

https://maps.google.com/locationhistory

Google is pretty up-front about it all

Unlike other companies, Google has generally been pretty up-front about the information it has on you.  While it’s not lit up in lights, it’s also not hidden behind link after link within the terms and conditions pages. 

You’ll find a way to disable pretty much everything Google tracks about you through the Activity controls setting in ‘My Account’.

If you want to know exactly what Google knows, then you can export it all right here:

https://www.google.com/takeout

Now that you know the information it takes and how it uses it, it’s time for you to decide what your relationship with Google is moving forward.

Tagged with:

  • Data
  • Google
  • Information
  • Privacy
Author -
Content Writer Thomson Local

Away from his role as a Content Writer for Thomson Local, you’ll find Craig writing about either football or video games at a myriad of sites and publications. He’s had words featured in The Guardian, Eurogamer, Nutmeg and his own site Pause Resume. He’s also currently in the process of attaining a degree in Creative Writing with the Open University.

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