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  • Parv Jain

What Information Does Google Really Gather?

Updated: Jan 11

What Information Does Google Really Gather?

In 2024, Google knows a lot more about us than we might realize. Every time we use Google, whether it's for searching for something on the internet, checking our emails, or even asking for directions on Google Maps, we're giving Google pieces of information about ourselves.


It's not just about the questions we ask or the places we visit; Google gathers data about our Age, Name, and even our Date of Birth.


Think about it: when you create a Google account,


You often provide your details like your Name and Birth date. And when you upload photos or use Google's services on your phone, Google can learn what you look like. Plus, the way we search and the things we are interested in can tell Google a lot about our gender and other personal aspects.


But why does Google collect all this information?


It helps them personalize our experience.


For instance, if you search for Birthday cake recipes, Google might start showing you ads for baking supplies. This personalization can make our online experience feel more tailored to our interests, but it also means Google holds a significant amount of data about us.


In this blog, we're going to explore what Google knows about you and how it uses this information.

What Information Does Google Really Gather?


Google gathers a lot of different types of information about you.

Here's a simple breakdown of what kind of information Google collects.


  1. Search History: Every time you search for something on Google, it keeps a record. This includes everything you look up, from weather updates to questions you have.

  2. Location Data: If you use Google Maps or have location services turned on your phone, Google tracks where you go. This helps them give you directions and traffic updates.

  3. Device Information: Google collects info about the device you're using, like your phone or computer. This includes what type of device it is, the operating system, and even your screen resolution.

  4. App Usage: Google also keeps track of how you use their apps and services. For example, which Google apps do you use and how often?

  5. Voice and Audio Information: If you use Google Assistant or voice search features, Google records your voice inputs.


Is Google Watching Us?

Yes, in a way,


Google is 'Watching' us,


But not like a person would.


It's more about the information we give when we use Google services.


Every time we search for something on Google, watch a video on YouTube, or use Google Maps, Google collects data about these activities. It's like leaving digital footprints.


Google stores private information like our search history, where we go, and what we like to watch. If you use Gmail, it even knows about your appointments and who you email. And when you talk to Google Assistant, it remembers what you asked.


This helps Google give you directions, show you videos you might like, or remind you about your meetings.


But,


Why does Google keep all this information?


It's mainly to make their services more useful for you, like showing you search results that are relevant or ads that might interest you.


However, it's important to know that Google has a lot of details about our online life.


While Google says they keep this information safe and private, it's still a lot of data about us in one place.


That's why it's good to understand what Google knows and take steps to control our privacy, like checking our Google account settings.


How does Google know what you're talking about?


What does google know about you

Google knows what you're talking about mainly through the things you search for and the stuff you do online.


It's like if you always talk to a friend about soccer, that friend will know you're interested in soccer. Google works similarly but with computers and algorithms.


When you search for something on Google or watch videos on YouTube, Google remembers these activities. It's like taking notes on what topics you're interested in.


Google uses all this information to make guesses about what you might be interested in.


Let's Say, you're thinking about buying a new phone.


You go on Google and search for "Best Smartphones 2024." After looking at some websites and watching a few phone review videos on YouTube, you close your browser.


What happens next


Google is playing a guessing game.


Google remembers that you were looking for phones. So, the next time you're browsing the internet or watching YouTube, Google starts showing you ads for smartphones.


It's like Google is saying, "You were interested in phones earlier, so you might like to see these phone ads."


It's not that there's someone at Google personally picking these ads for you.


It's all done by computers and programs that match your recent searches with related ads. This way, Google tries to show you ads that are about things you might actually want to buy or learn more about.


Where can I see what Google knows about me?


You can see what Google knows about you by checking your Google account. It's like having a file cabinet where Google keeps all the information it has about your activities.

For example, if you want to see what you've searched for on Google, you can go to your Google account and look at your search history.

"It's like a diary of all the things you've looked up on Google."


If you use YouTube, there's a history page where you can see all the videos you've watched. And if you have a smartphone with location services turned on, Google Maps can show you the places you've visited.

To check all this:


1. Go to your Google account (you can just search for "Google account" and log in).


Google account

2. Look for a section called "Data & personalization."


3. Here, you can find different options like "Web & App Activity," "Location History," and "YouTube History."


Data & personalization

For Example:

Let's say your name is Paul, and you're curious about what Google knows about you. Here's how you'd find out:


1. Logging into Your Google Account:

  • Paul, you start by searching for "Google account" on your web browser.

  • You click on the link and log in with your Email and Password.

2. Finding the 'Data & Personalization' Section:

  • After logging in, you see various options on your account page.

  • You click on "Data & Personalization," which is like a control panel for your data.

3. Exploring Your Activity:

  • Under "Data & Personalization," you find different categories.

  • First, you check "Web & App Activity." Here, you see a list of your recent Google searches and activities on apps connected to your Google account.

  • For example, you find searches for "Best pizza near me".

4. Reviewing Your Location History:

  • Next, you explore "Location History." If you had this turned on, you see a map showing places you've visited. Maybe it shows the pizza place you went to last weekend.

5. Looking at Your YouTube History:

  • Finally, you click on "YouTube History." Here, you find the list of videos you've watched recently.

In each of these sections, Paul, you have the option to delete parts of your history or change settings for future data collection. This is like cleaning up your digital footprint and taking control of what Google knows about you.


Effective Alternatives to Google Services

Effective Alternatives to Google Services

Search Engines:

  • Bing: Microsoft's search engine, known for its image search.

  • DuckDuckGo: Focuses on user privacy, and doesn’t track searches.

  • Yahoo Search: Another long-standing search engine option.


Email Services:

  • Outlook: Microsoft’s email service, integrated with Office 365.

  • Yahoo Mail: Offers a large amount of storage space.

Maps and Navigation:

  • Apple Maps: A default choice for iOS users.

  • MapQuest: One of the original web mapping services.


Video Platforms:

  • Vimeo: A platform known for high-quality videos.

  • Dailymotion: Offers a wide range of content similar to YouTube.

Cloud Storage:

  • Dropbox: Easy to use and popular for file sharing.

  • Microsoft OneDrive: Integrated with Windows and Office 365.

  • iCloud: Ideal for users heavily invested in Apple's ecosystem.


Digital Assistants:

  • Siri: Apple’s assistant, integrated into iOS devices.

  • Alexa: Amazon’s assistant, known for its smart home integration.

  • Cortana: Microsoft’s assistant, integrated into Windows.


Web Browsers:

  • Mozilla Firefox: Known for privacy and customization options.

  • Safari: Apple’s browser, optimized for iOS and Mac devices.

  • Opera: Offers a free VPN and ad blocker.


FAQs

Q1: How does Google use my search history?

Google uses your search history to personalize your search results and show you relevant ads.

Imagine you're planning a camping trip. You search on Google for things like "best camping tents" and "camping checklist." Google remembers these searches. The next time you look up anything related to camping, Google might show you more detailed information about camping gear or great camping sites, thinking that's what you're interested in.

Additionally, you might start seeing advertisements for outdoor equipment or special camping deals on other websites you visit. This is because Google uses your past searches to decide which ads might be most relevant to you, based on your interest in camping.


Q2: Can Google track my location?

Yes, if you have location services turned on, Google can track and store your location data.

Let's say you have a smartphone with Google Maps installed. One day, you decide to go to a new coffee shop. You use Google Maps to find the shop and get directions. If your location services are on, Google knows you went to that coffee shop. It keeps track of this in your location history. Later, Google might use this information to suggest other coffee shops or show ads for nearby cafes, because it knows you visited one.


Q3: What happens to the information Google collects from me?

Google uses this information to personalize your experience, like showing tailored ads and search results. They also use it to improve their services.

Let's say you often search for video game news on Google. Google remembers these searches. Next time you search, it might show you more news about video games or new game releases because it knows that's what you like.

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