Have you ever visited a shopping site followed by a news site and found that most of the ads you see are from that shopping site? That did not happen by accident. Google has been tracking your activities and using the data it collects to make money.
Google has one of the largest collections of consumer data on the planet. Besides capturing the information that users freely give when they sign up for a Google account, Google tracks its users’ web activity so it can display ads that better match their interests. Even users without Google accounts have their web activity tracked, though Google is unable to connect it to a specific person.
Google uses the data it collects to develop profiles about its users. Many people do not realize just how shockingly detailed these profiles can be.
If you are a Google user, here are six things that Google knows about you:
1. Your Account Details
Google knows your name, phone number, and all the other information you provided when you signed up for a Google account.
2. Your Usage of Google’s Tools
Google provides users with many tools, including a word processor, web browser, and contact list. The tech giant keeps track of how you use these tools. This means that it knows how many documents you have in Google Docs, how many bookmarks you have in Chrome and what they are, and how many people you have in your contact list.
3. Your Gmail Inbox Contents
If you have a Gmail account, Google knows how many messages are in your inbox. It also scans your messages for keywords. It uses this information to tailor the ads and search results it shows you.
4. Your Searches
Besides tracking your web browsing activity, Google keeps tabs on your web search history. This is one of the main ways in which it develops an advertising profile about you. By knowing what you are searching for, Google can determine what types of products and services you are likely to buy.
5. The Videos You Watch
Google owns YouTube, so it is able to track your activity on that site as well. The information about your YouTube activity is used for advertising purposes.
6. Your Location
It is likely that Google knows where you live. It might even know where you are located right this minute. If you have used Google Maps to get directions from your home to somewhere, Google knows where you live based on that information and your IP address. If you have an Android phone and have not disabled the Google Location History feature, Google knows where you are located right this minute. Location tracking lets the company offer you geographically specific results when you search for something.
Check Your Profiles
There are several ways you can find out the types of information that Google is collecting about you:
- You can review your Google account profile by going to the My Account web page. There you can see what personal information you gave Google when you signed up. Plus, if you click the Account History option, you can see if Google is tracking your location, web search history, YouTube search history, or browser activity.
- Google has developed a dashboard designed to increase transparency about the data it collects about you. The Google Dashboard summarizes the data collected for each Google tool that you use.
- Google’s advertising profiles include guesses about its users’ ages, genders, and interests. You can see your advertising profile on the Control Your Google Ads web page and find out just how right (or wrong) the tech giant is about you. You can also use this website to stop Google from tracking your web activity by opting out of its interest-based advertising program.