What Google Knows about you, and how to find out?

What Google Knows about you, and how to find out?

“Let’s Google it.”

Starting from pins to properties, we use Google for everything. It has become an integral part of the modern digital lifestyle.

According to the latest statistics, more than 1 billion people use Google every day! Have you ever thought about what Google does with such a massive amount of data?

The search engine giant tracks and manages all this data to customise its applications and services to attract more users.  

Although Google has always stated that “Your privacy is protected by responsible data practices,” you would not like a peeping tom prying into your personal life all the time.

Whether we like it or not, the emails we send, the videos we share, and the mobile apps we use, Google collects all the information about user activities.

How to Find Out How Much Google Knows About You

In 1998, when Google was launched in the US, it came with a key to the digital age. Since then, for many years, Google remained only a search engine. However, with increasing commercialisation, things have changed. 

To dominate the market, Google had to offer personalised services to users. So, it began large-scale data collection about user searches. 

If you sign in and check the search history that Google holds, you will also find your YouTube search history there.

Google collects the following types of data about you:

  • Name, gender, and DOB

  • Email addresses

  • Phone numbers

  • Living address

  • Workplace

  • Your website visit history

  • Your searches on Google

  • Your ad preferences

  • Your interests

  • Places you have visited

  • Your YouTube history, including the videos you watched recently

  • Your instructions to the Google Assistant, including using smart speakers.

All this data remains stored in a cookie, which recognises your online activities and your device linked to your profile in Google’s data centres. 

How does Google Gather All the Data?

Online users should understand how Google collects all the information about them and how much the company knows. 

Google stores the information you give them when using their services, like signing up for Gmail or filling out different forms. The search engine stores almost everything, and it keeps a historical record of the user data that can go back years.

Google collects user data through the following services:

  • Google Search: Google stores a historical record of searches you performed using its search engine. All these searches tell a lot about you, including your buying intent. 

  • Google Chrome: Google Chrome is perhaps the best and most popular web browser. It also provides Google with data about every website you visit. 

  • Google Maps: When you use Google Maps for travelling or finding a destination, it gives Google access to your location and history.

  • YouTube: Google also tracks the videos your search and watch on YouTube and keeps a record of that. 

  • Google Apps: There are many Google apps that we use every day. Some of them are Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Calendar, and more. They all store our data.

  • Android: Google is also the inventor of the Android operating system, which is widely popular globally. Many Android apps constantly store data about our daily activities. It means what games you play, videos you watch, and the calls you make to people, all this data gets stored. 

How to Prevent Google from Gathering Data about You

One of the ways to prevent Google from gathering your data is to stop using its services and switch to a different browser, such as Microsoft Edge, Firefox, or Opera.

Instead of taking such a drastic step, you can review the ‘My Activity’ page on Google, where the search engine tracks your location, activities on the web and app, device details, and more. You can delete those individually if you desire.  

Log into your Google account and go to the My Activity page. What you will find looks like this:

Once your scroll down, you will see the 'Filter by date & product' section, and on the right side of it, there is a 'Delete' dropdown. 

After you click the dropdown, it will show that you can delete your online activities by 'Last Hour','Last Day',“All Time”, and by using “Custom range” (between two specific dates)”.

You also have the option of turning off ‘Web & app activity’ or ‘YouTube history’. Click the relevant buttons as shown in the first screenshot of this section and select ‘Turn off’.

Another way you can prevent Google from collecting your data or spying on you is by buying a premium anti-virus software application with webcam protection and private browsing features.

Here is an example:

You can see from the screenshot that the webcam protection feature stops spying on the user, and the private browsing feature has prevented 23,055 attempts to collect user data.

Although we live in a digital age with no privacy, there are ways to protect it.