It’s no secret that Google knows a lot about everyone with an online presence.
Google collects data about you from all their apps and websites, whether it be Google Maps, Gmail, Google Calendar, or YouTube. This data helps them advertise to you and customize their content to your preferences and interests.
A major consequence of this is that they just have a ton of data about all their users, and can make educated guesses about their future behavior based on this information.
Google might know you better than you know yourself.
So that you have a clearer idea of how and what exactly Google tracks, TheBestVPN provided a list of Google’s methods and applications below:
- Google Photos: Google knows what you look and sound like, thanks to facial recognition and audio recordings. Google Photos is able to tag each person in your images in every image based on an estimation of what they look like.
- Google Home: Using voice commands with Google Home or any other Google product lets them know what your voice sounds like. Visiting a certain politician’s website, watching religious sermons, or donating to a campaign or charity lets Google know what your political, religious, and social beliefs are.
- Google Fit: If you use Google Fit, they know your height and weight, your health goals, and how active you are.
- Google Chrome: Using Google’s browser, Chrome, gives the mega corporation a host of random details about you from your search history and any other websites you visit directly. They can also make inferences about what you plan to do in the future. They know if there is a movie you want to see, if there is a city you are planning on visiting, and whether you’re looking into buying a home or car. All this can just be gauged from just your search data.
- Google Ads: Anything you search for goes into their database of information they can use to advertise to you and curate content for you.
- Waze and Google Maps: Location tracking is one of the things Google is extremely good at, and they know everything from your favorite vacation spots to your least favorite restaurant. In fact, now it may only take Google three days to pinpoint where you live. Of course, they keep track of where you work, places you visit, and places you’ve traveled. They show you recommendations and advertisements for new places to visit and new restaurants to eat at based on what they know you already like.
- Gmail and Google Calendar: Google knows who your friends are. If you use Gmail for either work or your personal life, they know who your contacts are and who you talk to the most. Android and Pixel users even give them access to their text messages and phone contacts. If you’re meeting a friend later and put the event on Google Calendar, they know about it. They are even tracking your location to and from the appointment. If you take a picture there, Google uses facial recognition to add the picture to your friend’s Google Photos album as well.
- Google Books and YouTube: Google knows what you like and dislike. It uses its search data like what recipes you’ve looked up or what books and movies you’ve searched for to get a good picture of your preferences in a variety of fields. They use apps like Google Books and YouTube to collect information about what you read and watch, and what links and ads you click on while you’re browsing. You can even see how much they know about you from the accuracy of their recommendations to you.
- Google Shopping: If you use Google Shopping to compare the prices of items between vendors, Google knows what products they are and what retailers you prefer.
The amount of information Google has on you is unprecedented, and can be quite unsettling. However, there are steps you can take to try and minimize this tracking.
Here are six proven methods that prevent Google from tracking your online activity:
- Use a VPN: Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a secure way to hide your IP address, make your browsing history private, and encrypt your internet traffic. It will not completely keep Google from accessing your data, but keeping all these things secure using a VPN makes a world of difference.
- Use private browsers: A more simple fix is to just use Incognito Mode on Chrome, but doing this only prevents the websites you access from showing up in your browser history. Other websites can still collect and share information about you if you use Incognito Mode.
- Adjust privacy settings: Of course, Google lets you adjust what data is stored about you in the Activity Controls and Activity Page on Chrome.
- Disable location tracking: You can turn off location tracking in Google Maps, but it will still be able to see where you are when you’re using the app for directions.
- Use a different browser and search engine: If you want to stop specifically Google from tracking your data, you can use a different browser and search engine, but a different company will then get that information.
- Delete yourself from the internet: To actually stop Google from tracking you, you would need to take extreme measures. This includes deleting all apps that are linked to Google, including Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Drive. You would also have to get rid of any Google and Android devices, and move to a different browser and search engine.
We rely on Google a lot more than we realize, and for many people it is worth it to have Google collecting so much data. Of course, for others, privacy is a huge issue. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, it is important to know exactly what information you supply Google with and how to control it.
Check out this infographic below by TheBestVPN to learn more about what Google knows about you.
This infographic was created by TheBestVPN.