How Much Does Google Know About Me?
How Much Does Google Know About Me?
Google arguably has more data on internet users than just about any other major platform. The only platform that might be able to compete with Google is Facebook/Instagram which has over 4.5 billion users (and owns the rights to all of their data). Even then, the low-cost Google Chromebooks being sold in stores around the world offer a whole new range of data to the search engine company.
Every time you access your Chrome browser, use your Google account, type a query into Google’s search engine, or download an app on your Chromebook, Google is gathering information about you.
And lest we forget to mention, Android is owned by Google and is installed on 73% of all smartphones worldwide. Almost all of those devices are synced to various Google accounts, which means that Google can effectively track over 70% of all smartphone users in the world.
Pretty crazy, right?
Of course, you can limit the amount of data Google collects by changing some easily accessible privacy settings and using a good VPN service along with an anonymous browser. Even then, completely preventing Google from knowing about you can be difficult.
If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Just how much does Google know about me,” then brace yourself, because we’re about to show you!
What Information Does Google Collect?
Google literally has entire office buildings dedicated to storing data. That’s right, entire buildings are lined with thousands of powerful computer servers, storing information on global Google/Android users, running the data through complex algorithms, and using it enhance its systems, advertising, and relevancy.
If you’ve ever seen the thriller film Eagle Eye, then you’ll understand us when we say that Google isn’t far off. There may be a day in the near future when Google is able to accurately predict our entire lives and future!
That being said, here is some of the main information that Google collects on its users.
The most common information that Google collects is demographic data on its users. This typically includes the more obvious data, such as your name, email address, age/birthday, family members, economic status, and other readily accessible data.
Although it may seem a bit personal, the reality is that almost every social media platform and major app you use has the same exact information, so it’s not exactly news.
Here’s where things start to get a bit creepy… Google will actively track the websites that you log into and use them to guess where you go to school and what type of degree you have. For example, if your constantly logging into a school’s undergraduate .edu platform, then Google will assume you’re an undergraduate college student.
If you’re accessing a high school’s page or your medical school’s student portal, Google will also be able to accurately guess your education status. Depending on how often and how long you’ve been accessing these pages, Google may even be able to tell how many years that you’ve been attending school.
Google tracks your location to provide you with more relevant, detailed content. For example, when you search for the weather, Google uses your location to display accurate information about your local weather forecast.
Google is able to track your location through using a number of different tactics, including:
- Your device’s GPS location.
- Your IP address (which correlates with your geographic location).
- Your ISP (internet service provider).
For example, many people report that even when using a reputable VPN like IPVanish or Surfshark, that Google can still guess their location. This is likely because you haven’t disabled all Google tracking or your device is still connected to its GPS location service.
Hobbies and Interests
Based on the websites you visit, the apps you use, and the questions you search for, Google can usually put together a long list of your various interests and hobbies. For example, if you’re constantly searching for recipes’s, Google will take note that like cooking. Facebook also does the same thing whenever you ‘Like’ a page.
Information About Your Devices
As you’re using Google’s search engine, the Chrome browser, your Android, or your Chromebook, Google gathers all of the available data on your device and links it to your Google account. Google knows about your PC’s specs, your phone’s specs, which browser you’re using, what type of internet connection you’re using, what operating system you’re using, and more.
Predictions About You
Perhaps, the strangest thing is that Google can accurately predict some of your interests, what type of restaurants you may enjoy, your economic status, level of education, and other personal details. This is made possible by Google’s highly advanced algorithms. These algorithms scan through all of your recorded data and use it to categorize you and make predictions (which are often accurate) about your future moves.
What Does Google Do With My Information?
By now, you’re probably wondering, “What on earth does Google do with all of my information?”
Well, the primary reason Google collects your information is for advertising purposes. Google is a 100% free-to-use platform that has developed tons of useful free tools for its users. The main way that Google makes money is by its position as an advertising platform.
Anybody can create a Google Adwords account and start advertising to internet users around the world. Now that Google owns YouTube, they get to keep a large portion of advertising profits from YouTube commercials too.
And what makes Google such a valuable advertising platform?
… You guessed it – Google has access to insane amounts of data which allow advertisers to create highly-targeted advertisements and increase their return on their marketing investment.
The other main reason Google collects your information and creates a profile on each of its users is to improve the overall user experience of the app. Google gets to track how its users are using its tools, regularly requests reviews and performance reports, and even pays people to go through Google results and YouTube videos to help them improve its platforms and tools.
The more information they have on users, the easier it is for them to improve their platform and ensure that Google always remains relevant, well into the future.
Does Google Sell My Information?
Here’s where the silver lining comes in…
Google does not sell your information.
Although they allow advertisers to use their data to customize ads, no advertiser (or anybody else, for that matter) can directly view or access the information that Google has acquired on its users.
Now, contrast this to Facebook and Instagram. These two platforms sell more data than just about any social media application in the world. Some report that Instagram sells up to 80% of its total user data to third parties, such as large advertisers, law enforcement, governments, and more.
Point being, if you’re going to trust a platform, Google is definitely one of the more trustworthy ones.
How To See What Information Google Has About You
Are you curious about what exactly Google knows about you? Well, per Google’s transparent business model, all users can view the general information that Google has collected on you. Here’s how to view your Google data profile.
- Navigate To Your Account Settings: First, click on your Google account bubble in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. Then, click ‘Manage Your Account.’ This will bring up all of your data and account settings.
- Click on Data and Privacy Settings: Next, look on the left-hand side of the screen to view the various account management categories. Click on the tab that says ‘Data and Privacy.’
- Click Ad Personalization and View Your Information/Predictions: Now, scroll down to the bottom of the screen where you’ll see a little box that says ‘Ad Settings.’ Here you’ll be able to turn your personalized ad tracking on or off. You can also scroll down to the bottom of the page and view all of the informaiton that Google has stored on you, based on your online activity.
How To Stop Google From Tracking You
Thankfully, there’s a really simple way to keep Google from tracking you and showing you personalized ads in the future. Simply follow the steps above and access your Data and Privacy settings. Then, click on ‘Ad Personalization’ underneath your Ad Settings. Here, you’ll be able to click a blue slider button to turn your ad personalization on and off.
You can also view advanced ad settings and change those as well!
Most people are shocked when they learn how much Google knows about them. However, the reality is that this is quite common. Google just happens to be one of the few platforms that’s completely honest about the data they collect and how it’s used. In fact, they’re so honest that they allow you to stop them from tracking you.
Of course, Google will always have some basic information on your device and Google account, but you can prevent them from having any knowledge beyong that. You just have to take the time to adjust your privacy settings, use a good VPN service, and browse Google in incognito mode.