Find out Everything Google Knows About You and Your Online Activity
Find out what Google knows about you and how can you change that Privacy is one of the main concerns for all Internet users in these times. More often than not, all of your data is online, which is not only a threat to your privacy, but also to your safety.
In this article, we will take a look at what personal information Google knows about its users and what Google does with that information. Also, we will tell how you can delete some of those personal files and keep them just for yourself.
What kind of information does Google collect?
Google is used by 90% of all Internet users, so it is only logical that Google collects most data from the users too. However, in order for Google to collect data from visitors, one has to have a Google account.
Do You Have a Google Account?
If you have a Google account, your search history and other online actions are saved and collected by Google. If you don’t have a Google account, Google can’t know who you are and thus can’t collect any data from you. It can gather some anonymous information about you in the form of cookies on your PC or phone or laptop browser, but it can’t know what data it is.
If you are not sure if you ever opened a Google account, just ask yourself do you use Android or Gmail, or YouTube and if you do, do you sign in when you use them. If that is the case, then you do have a Google account, since the email and password that you use in those situations are from your Google account.
Search History and Account Basics
Google is the most popular and widely used search engine, which means that all your search history is available to Google. Make no mistake; Google saves that data since it can tell a lot about you, your interests and preferences. You can login to your Google account and see what search history Google has saved from your queries. Probably everything. You can also see all your YouTube search history while you are at it.
A lot of your basic information is also found in your account details. You can go to https://myactivity.google.com/ if you want to see what information Google has from your account. Of course, you need to sign in before you go to this address. Then go to Dashboard and you will see all of your records regarding any Google tools you used in the past.
Good news is that you can delete this information. You simply have to go to Google’s history page, tap on Menu and go to Advanced – All Time – Delete. You can also prevent Google from tracking your queries and search for good. You just have to go to the activity controls page and select tracking off.
What Google Knows About You?
Google collects data for a specific reason – advertising. That is why Google makes assumptions on your preferences based on the collected information about you. So, this can be a really cool thing since you can get some interesting stuff, sometimes even free, but it can also be very annoying when you constantly receive ads for something that you don’t really want or care about.
It is, nonetheless, interesting to find out just what Google thinks that it knows about your interests and preferences. You can find that out by going to Settings once you sign into your Google account. There you can see what Google believes to be your age and gender and what it thinks are your interests and hobbies. Before Google +, this was very entertaining since Google could only assume that information based on your searches and activities. Now, if you are a Google + user and if you entered the correct information, then the basic data you will find here is due to be mostly right.
However, these interests can also be kind of misleading and fun to see. Especially if you have a work account and personal account, so your interest on the work account probably won’t have that much relevance as the data that is or could be collected in the personal account. In this case, you might be getting targeted for ads that are not in your interest area, at least not as much as those things that you care about privately.
For this reason, it is good news that you can opt out of these ads that target you based on your interest, but you can also opt out of letting site owners track you using Google Analytics. You just need to go to Google Analytics opt-out page and you will see the options you want.
What Google Knows About Your Location?
Another thing you can find out from the Google Settings Dashboard we have mentioned previously is what Google thinks your location is and where it thinks you have been. It can be found in Location History. This data Google collects from your phone, but some of them are set by default not to share that data. If you are using Android, then you probably have the same settings already.
However, you should note that some of the apps from your Android phone give Google permission to access your information. This can be changed, which is rather good news. If you want to see what each Google app can collect about you, just go to your Google Account and click on Security. If you click on any device or app, you will see what kind of access they have. If you want to change that, click on the chosen device and you will be given the opportunity to change it on the right side of your screen.
However, if you want to make your location settings completely private at all times, it might be a little tricky. To stop data collecting in future and to get rid of it totally, you will have to opt out of location tracking and reporting with your device, regardless of what it is, Android or iOS.
My Activity and Google’s transparency
Google does collect a lot of data from its users and it might be frightening to hear just how much information Google has on you. Whether you use YouTube, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or any other search tool or browser, if you search via Google, all the search history and activity will remain saved and stored by Google. Even if you use voice search or you talk to someone with your smartphone, Google will keep those records and collect your data. It is difficult to accept such a scope of information gathering, but Google is actually pretty transparent regarding this. You can always see what data Google has on you and you can delete most or even all of it.
Since Google is very transparent about the data it gathers, it leaves you with many options on how to delete that data or how to disable the collection of your personal information. Google gathers your personal data for advertising purposes, so it can create targeted and custom ads for each user. This way it increases the chances of users being interested in the product or service in question.
My Activity lets you decide whether or not you want to be exposed to this kind of targeted advertising methods. It is important to note that, unlike a large number of other web firms, this service has to be opted in to, not opted out of. If you do not personally select to activate this behavioral data gathering, you will not receive targeted ads.
That is why Google tries to find some kind of a middle ground and encourage its users to enable targeted advertising, but also provides them with the option to disable the specific ads that they don’t want to receive for any reason.
Not all have instant access to My Activity, however, users can and will be notified when they have the opportunity to sign in and personalize their browsing adventures. Also, this is where you can delete your browsing history and all the data Google has gathered about you over the time. You can decide what information to let it keep and what not.
In the end, we can conclude that Google’s personal information collection philosophy seems to be totally or almost totally transparent. Yes, Google gathers every piece of data that it can, for many different reasons, but it also lets you know that it does and allows you to delete or change that at all times, if you so wish.
I suppose that everything comes with a price and that is the case with your browsing experience. If you want it to be faster, more personalized and effective, if you want it to be according to your standards and interests, you obviously need to sacrifice a part of your privacy. Is that good or is it bad, we let you decide and choose what to do with all the information presented in this article.