Most of us use Google on a daily basis without thinking too much into it. We are inclined to think that since everyone uses it so much, the danger of having our own online data exposed is quite minimal. However, you may find it surprising just exactly how much information the internet tech giant is keeping us at stake.
Our Personal Profile
With all the information we feed Google daily, the company is able to maintain a personal profile on each of us. Considering how much we utilize its services on our personal devices, from phone calls to video chats to the information we keep on Chrome, Google likely has a good understanding on all of the following:
Your full name, birthday, gender, and phone number. Upon creating a Google account or a Gmail, we are prompted to enter this voluntarily.
Your address and travel patterns. Most of us rely on Google Maps almost regularly to guide us to new locations, redirect us home or explore new areas. From the addresses we may voluntarily enter online or Google Maps monitoring how often we're staying in remote areas, it can deduce where we live and where we might travel next with or without us knowing. This means that Google knows our home and work/school addresses, our holiday destinations, our travel plans from Google Flights and much more. Google Photos also has AI to track where you've been based on analyzing your photos' metadata and geolocation to create an accurate timeline of where you've been through grouping your photos into albums. You can even find this data yourself and see your timeline here.
Your physical traits. Through actively uploading pictures onto Google Photos, updating profile pictures on Facebook, Instagram and etcetera, you provide Google the toolset to use its facial recognition algorithm to find out you look. Those of us who use Google Assistant, we allow Google to record our voice and conversations and know how our voice sounds.
Your hobbies, interests and habits. One of Google's main business models focuses on data mining and predicting user behaviours. This way, through creating this personal profile of you, it is able monetize your activity by creating and sending targeted ads and content. This could include your shopping habits, your physical activity level, the books that you read, your favorite places, your favorite games and shows and much more.
Your social network (friends and family). By tracking who you interact with online, through Google Photos, your Google Hangouts and more, Google is able to deduce who exactly you are talking to and recognize their relationships to you.
Your Youtube Search History. Every video that you have ever watched and searched for has been noted if you did it while signed in to your Google account. Your video history can say as much about you as your Google search – your interests, your future plans, holiday destinations, etc. You can find your Youtube watch history and search history here.
To access all of the information you have seen above, you can head to your account and download an archive of all the information Google has on you.
How to Keep Your Data Private
It can be scary to think about how much exactly Google knows about us. Although having your personal profile setup can be efficient for you to find what exactly you need and want, it could also be used against us to influence our decisions and view content, not to mention the many cybersecurity risks it may create if a large breach ever takes place one day. Here are the steps that you can take to limit the amount of Google's surveillance on yourself:
Use its Incognito mode or private browsers that secure your data online.
Turn Google's activity tracking off.
Delete your activity.
Terminate suspicious apps that have access to your Google account.
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