How Much Does Google Really Know About You? A lot.
All eyes have been on Facebook lately when it comes to data and privacy, and for good reason. After their data breach of 87 million users and some bad publicity, there’s no shortage of skepticism when it comes to Facebook. But with all eyes turned towards Facebook, Google seems to be slipping under the radar when it comes to privacy questions, when in fact Google knows more about you than Facebook does.
So how much information does Google really know about you?
Let’s start with the simplest answer which is: Google knows as much as you allow it to. Meaning that your privacy settings determine how much information you allow Google to access your browsing history and activity on related products. To give you a real-life example of just how much data Google has on people, I downloaded my data and it was 2GB which equals roughly 1.5 million word documents.
This could range from your browsing history, video viewing, purchasing, location history, online searches and more. Everything that you have “connected” to Google like your phone is collecting information.
Some obvious ones that shouldn’t be surprising is that Google knows your age, gender and where you live and sometimes where you work. This helps Google group you into categories such as “25-35-year-old females, living in California who work in finance.”
Some examples of other information Google collects:
-Places you’ve searched in Google maps
-Apps that you’ve used (if you own an Android device)
-Everything you’ve asked your Google device (if you own a Google device)
-Every video you’ve watched on YouTube
-Every comment you have left on YouTube
-All Gmail files, downloads, emails and even drafts
When it comes to your location. It is not just tracking where you’ve been but the date, time of day, travel time and amount of time spent at each location. On Google Fit, it tracks how many steps you’ve taken, anytime you walked or worked out and how long.
Google is also collecting information off your apps that you have agreed to let it obtain like Uber and Spotify. This includes extensions of the app, especially Messenger so that it sees who you are talking to on Facebook, what times you are most active and even what time you go to sleep.
Google photos stores information about where you took the photos, when and who you were with. If you pull up Google photos this should be no surprise as it starts to categorize the people and things in the photo. IE. I can now search “my dog” and it will bring up all the pictures of my dog.
Google calendar tracks all events you attended and when. Google stores search history across all your devices on a separate database, so even if you delete your search history and phone history, Google will still everything until you delete off all devices.
Automatic fill-ins online like passwords and credit card information are all stored and saved in Google’s database as well. Including every purchase made with these and logins made with the passwords.
Perhaps the most uneasy for people is that Google stores files that have been deleted as well. But it is probably best to remember that Google’s intentions are not to be ill-intended, they are for ad serving and profit. However, as talked about with Facebook, the concern is not about Google or Facebook but others having the ability to access this vast amount of data.