Thursday, 29 September 2016

How Much Does Google Know About You?

If you're like most people you've been using a lot of Google's products because they are free, convenient, and usually pretty good. Gmail is very widely used, as is Google Maps, Chrome, etc.

But have you ever stopped to ask yourself "How much does Google know about me?".

You should. By using their products at the default settings you are giving Google a great deal of insight in to your online activities. You actually consented to it when you clicked the "I accept" button on their terms of service. You know, that thing we all never read.

"Ok Homegeek, so what can I do about it?"

Well to start with, go take a look at what Google actually knows about you, I think you'll be quite surprised.

Go to https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity and review the data. You may wish to switch to the Item view rather than the bundle view for ease of reading.

If you're using an Android phone  and/or tablet you'll see combined activities from your phone and your computer(s) there.


This is how Google is able to serve you up cards relevant to things you've expressed an interest in, but also how they have been able to provide targeted advertising to you.

Don't worry, you have the ability to delete or bulk delete any or all information they have recorded, but before you do a mass delete remember doing so will reduce how useful Google is to you.

Instead I suggest people review the apps and devices Google is gathering information from.

At that point you can tell Google to turn off information gathering for specific devices or apps, and you can delete some or all history associated with those items.

Perhaps you're more comfortable with location services not being recorded. Ok, but be aware things like recording where you parked your car, or using the turn-by-turn navigation system in Google Maps could be impacted.

You can of course just erase your complete digital footprint from Google's servers, but be prepared for the consequences. Most of the helpful features Google has been providing you will stop.

Personally I'm not too fussed about most of the items gathered, but I may wish to delete everything more than a year or two old as it's relevance is questionable.

Being aware of what information is gathered is always prudent. Adjusting what is gathered and retained will allow everyone to tailor Google's insights to a level they are comfortable with.

Remember, when the app is free that usually means you are the product.

Happy surfing!

-The Home Geek








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