Google: What It Knows About You and How to Remove Your Personal Info
We’re slowly waking up to the fact that the online world isn’t some sort of digital utopia. Was it ever, though? For many of us, it’s a wonderful place of perceived freedom, seemingly infinite information, and entertainment in almost every form.
Google has become synonymous with the idea of searching for something online, so much so that we’ve created a verb from its name. Whatever we’re looking for, we Google it. But what does Google know about you? Is your privacy guaranteed on the internet? It’s no conspiracy theory anymore that so much of what you do is tracked and logged on a server somewhere as a profile of you is continually built upon and fleshed out. Sounds like something from a dystopian sci-fi film – maybe it is, who knows?
Either way, we thought it’s necessary that you’re aware of what the big data giant, Google, knows about you. We also thought you’d like to know how to remove that personal info from Google. That’s why you’re here, isn’t it? Let’s get into it.
How Does Google Collect My Information?
For many netizens, this one’s obvious. For others, it isn’t, so we’ll explain it further. It’s important to note that you can start to put together a picture of what Google knows about once you start to learn how it collects its information. Let’s begin with this: You use a Google service. What Google service do you use? Many of us utilize their services fairly often, for a wide variety of things in our daily lives.
Online Searching and Browsing
Yes, everything that you search for online gets logged on Google’s servers. If you are not logged into Google when searching, the big data giant is still collating the data it receives from you and keeping it alongside your ISP and system information. They put two and two together. It probably knows that this is you even if you aren’t logged in with your Google account. All your search history is collected. And if you’re using Google’s web browser, every website that you’ve visited – even if you didn’t find it from a Google search – is logged.
Google Maps and Waze
All those places you go to when you’re using Google Maps for directions are tracked, too. When you turn your location functionality on and use an app like Google Maps, your every location is recorded. Some people think Waze is better – the interface and experience is a huge pull factor – but Waze is owned by Google so all that data goes to Google, too. This includes the traffic data that users share on Waze.
Android Operating Systems
In case you didn’t know, Android is owned by Google, too. What does it mean, then, if your operating system is owned by this tech company? Well, everything you do on your phone or tablet, for example, is logged. In addition to this, Google also has access to your texts and all the apps that you use on their operating system. This data is constantly being sent through.
YouTube and Other Apps
What Does Google Know About You?
Well, if you’ve read the above section, you can easily start piecing together what sort of information they know about you. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but to put it mildly – they know a lot about you. Google knows where you’ve been, where you work, the places you frequent after work, your hobbies, your interests, your morbid curiosities, your guilty pleasures… the list goes on and on.
All their data tracking can be quite creepy, but they’re still somewhat open about everything they’ve collected about you. For example, to receive a file with every single piece of data Google knows about you, you’re free to download a data packet with all this information straight from Google.
With all this information, they build an advertising profile so that they can serve you targeted ads. It makes them a pretty sum of money annually.
Removing Your Personal Information from Google
You’re creeped out, so naturally, you’re wondering, “how to remove my personal information from Google?” The first thing you can do is to stop using Google’s browser, Chrome, and opt for something more privacy-oriented. Popular browsers that take your privacy more seriously are Mozilla Firefox and DuckDuckGo, for example. If you’re an Android smartphone user, you probably loathe the idea of switching over to Apple, but it’s an option to keep your data from going to Google. On the other hand, don’t use a smartphone at all.
At this point, make a point of restricting what information Google collects about you from Google Activity controls. You’ll be able to stop them from tracking your web and app activity, location, device information, and even voice and audio activity (along with other related information).
Other measures that would be useful to take would be to stop Google from indexing your social media accounts on their search engine. This means that you can, effectively, stop your social media profiles from popping up if someone looks you up on Google. Each social media platform has their own way of doing this, so check your settings on those accounts and you should be able to turn off indexing so Google doesn’t show them on search results.
If you’ve put your personal information on your own websites or other websites, remove it from them. Of course, it’s easy to remove your personal info from your own website, but you’d have to contact the webmaster of other websites if you don’t have direct control over removing certain information.