Google is tracking you !
Google knows where you are !
Google is reading your emails !
Google knows what music you are listening to !
Every once in a while someone shares a scary Facebook post that has people losing their minds about how the super giant Google is secretively spying on their everyone. The truth is that yes Google does collect data from its users – but there is nothing secret or sneaky about it. In fact you have the controls to manage the info Google can collect about you.
Lets start with some Google questions:
Question: Why does Google collect information about my activities ?
Answer: It does this so that is can optimize your search results; after all that is why you use Google – to get good results. So when you type “cool things to do to tonight” into Google, it is going to give you results of what’s happening in your city and not across the globe. This is a good thing.
Question: Why does Google give my information to advertisers so they show me their ads at the right moment ?
Answer: Advertisers do not get your info from Google. Google makes money by selling ads. Advertisers buy ads on Google as they get good results from being able to target their ads. Targeting ads means that Google has a facility for advertisers to show their ads when you do a search with specific words. The thinking is that if you are searching for something to do with food then you might want to see an ad for a restaurant and another for recipe and another for food delivery service. You are going to get served ads so they might as well be of items that are relevant to your search. So if you are searching for “Holiday in France in December”, then it makes sense for a TripAdvisor ad, an airline ad and a hotel ad to appear and not an ad for roof inspection!
Question: How can Google take info from my phone and move it to my computer and visa versa?
Answer: When you log into your mobile device using the same Google ID that you have on your computer, typically [email protected], then Google pools all your searches and history together so that you can access them from any device. So if you research some info at home and then head out with your mobile phone, then you can simply open your Chrome browser on your phone and the recent terms you searched for from your home computer will be there. Convenient.
If you use Google Maps on your computer and search for an address you can even send the directions direct to your mobile phone so that you don’t have to fiddle with it in the car [see how to do that here].
Question: Does Google track your exact physical location?
Answer: Yes. Google also DOES track your location. This was “exposed” and “revealed” that if you over to a specific website you could see that Google has your every movement mapped out. No conspiracy theory here either, as this only happens because you specifically told Google to do it for you [read about that here]. Some people want to be able to see where they travel to so they can optimize their routes, minimize their travel time by avoiding congestion and just keep a log of cool places they travel to. Nice to see it all mapped out and can even repay each journey back if you wish.
Question: How can I see everything Google can see about me ?
Answer: Google has launched “My Activity Tool” which is a service that allows you to see everything that Google can see about you and your activities across all your devices.
Head over to the My Activity Tool where Google assures you that “Only you can see this data. Google protects your privacy and security”.
The tool is divided into sections so you can see, per day, your activity on Android, YouTube, Chrome, Search and Now
You can see the search phrases and even where you were where did the search.
What is also interesting that it records some of the apps you used and how many times – even apps that are not Google related
How to stop Google from tracking your usage, location and apps ?
Answer: Head over to “My Account”
Click on Manage your Google activity
Click on Go to Activity Controls
Now just scroll down and toggle the switch next to each section to pause Google from keeping track of that info: