What Does Google Know About Me?
Using Google is an efficient tool for finding out things. The search feature allows instantaneous retrieval of practically everything available on the internet. Well-known celebrities often have very detailed online biographies due to the power of Google. Personal information is regularly collected by Google and indexed in its exhaustive search results. This begs the question, what does Google know about you?
It is important to know that Google collects data on famous and normal people without distinction. Regular users are far more numerous than celebrities and therefore data is easier to collect from people like you. According to Alexa, a website ranking company, Google is the most popular website in the world. Google not only knows the things you search, but it also remembers. It uses your search queries to power its online advertising business, AdWords. This is why after searching for something using Google, ads on websites suddenly show similar results to what you just Googled. Such benign usage of search-related data might not seem so bad, but there are plenty of criminals that have figured out how to use Google for nefarious crimes.
More than a name
Even if you have a common name, search results become greatly more accurate with more keywords. Simply adding your city or state may be all that is needed for someone to find out more than you’re comfortable with. In addition to your real name and location, someone can also search up any previous usernames that you’ve been associated with in the past. Your real name and online names generally contain a piece of information here and there. With enough digging, an online fraudster may figure out enough to mimic your identity, signing you up for credit-ruining financial products or even so far as selling your information to a shadowy online data broker.
Consider the basic information that Google knows right off the bat. Your name, birthday, and gender are basic but very important in the grand scheme of things. Using these three basic things in various combinations may allow someone to easily find your personal information via Google’s search engine.
Online profiles, whether with your real name or not, contain nuggets of information. With so many websites popping up and fading away, it’s easy to forget which online profiles you set to public and which ones you set to private. The internet has been around for a long time, so it’s quite likely that these public profiles are slowly stacking up online. Google can easily find your stacked pile of information and show it to whoever’s asking.
All roads lead to Google
Even with an iPhone, your data most likely reaches Google at one point or another, especially if you use YouTube or Gmail. YouTube, like AdWords, constantly analyses your search terms to figure out what you want to watch next. The more time you spend watching, the more data Google can collect (while showing you ads). Spending a whole day watching YouTube is entirely possible because Google has figured out so much about you, that serving up auto-play video after auto-play video is child’s play.
Most people start off using YouTube or Google Search, but then make a Gmail account for a variety of reasons. Making any account for any Google service automatically creates an overarching Google Account. With so many free and convenient services that are bolstered by a free account, most people are willing to sign up.
Other websites sometimes allow users to use a Google Account to register. Signing into another website using your Google Account generally shares your name, birthday, and gender with the other website – leaving your data vulnerable to cyber security threats. Not every website has strong security and even though Google touts its security as impenetrable, there is no such thing as invincibility.
If you use a smartphone with the Android operating system, then you’ve probably realized by now that Google knows you better than your spouse or best friend. Android phones are so seamlessly integrated with Google’s offerings, that it’s neigh-impossible to use non-Google apps. As this article points out above, even with an iPhone it’s hard to get away from Google’s reach. Google has countless of multi-platform products that are hard to miss.
Gmail isn’t simply email. The interface and features are far more sophisticated than that. Gmail saves contacts, addresses, notes, and can even make phone calls. Google knows who you know, where they live, and any ideas you might have jot down. Think about how much information goes through your inbox. When you buy anything online, the receipt gets sent to your email. If you buy concert tickets, Google knows the time and place and even offers to add it to your, you guessed it, Google Calendar. Need directions? Google knows where you live and will direct you towards your venue.
Google Chrome has been the most popular web browser for some time. It keeps track of the websites you visit in frightening detail. Chrome knows precisely how long you spend on any given website and exactly what you type. Again, all this information is carefully being mined to serve you up more ads. Aside from tracking your browsing habits, it’s easy to miss how detailed Chrome’s Autofill feature is. Chrome will remember credit cards, passwords, and occasionally slip up and save ultra-sensitive information such as your social security or bank account numbers. Should Google ever find itself under a cyber-siege, such information may become publicly available.
What Google knows about you is extensive and generally kept private within its fortified servers. However, information tends to find a way to leak out. Consulting professionals to help clean up your internet footprint may be desirable, especially if you’re applying for a new job or you’re already in an executive position. It takes time and expertise to find and clean any lingering personal information on the web. Websites won’t always respond to an individual’s request and when that happens, ask an expert for quality results.