Google has faced problems with the law in the past regarding its privacy policies and the amount of data that it tracks from users across all its products which brings us to this question. How much does Google know about me? Google probably knows everything about you from everyone you have dated to that most hidden secret in your Android device.
However, the information Google has on you depends on the number of Google products that you use because you would be surprised by how much information those products collect from Google Maps to Docs and Gmail among others.
How Is My Google Data Collected?
The only way to know how much data Google has on you is first understanding how this information is collected. In simple terms, Google only stores the information you give it when you use any one of its Apps or services. The Search Engine stores data of every activity you have ever taken dating back to the first time you used any of its services. They have a historical record of you.
Here are Google Services that may have collected your Data:
- Google Search. Google keeps a history for every search you’ve done on the web while using Google’s search engine. This alone is a lot of information, but when it gets even more comprehensive when paired with the following.
- Google Chrome. While Chrome may very well be the best web browser available, it also gives Google the history of every website you’ve visited even if you didn’t reach that website through search.
- YouTube. Google tracks the searches you have done on YouTube and keeps a record of every video you’ve watched.
- Google Maps. The use of Google Maps, especially when using the navigation functionality, will give Google access to your location and history.
- Waze. You might not know it, but Google owns the popular Google Maps alternative. Waze uses crowd-sourcing to help guide drivers, which means that the input Wazers provide about traffic goes straight to Google.
- Android. This one may negate Google Maps and Waze simply because Google is also tracking your phone and doesn’t need to rely on those other services. Android is also storing your text messages and your app usage, so it knows all about that Candy Crush addiction you suffered a few years back.
- Google Apps. This list could go on for a while, so let’s just sum it up with: and every other Google app or service. This includes Google Calendar, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Photos, Google Drive, etc.
While Google doesn’t have quite the same access to an iPhone as it has to an Android device, it can and will still share information when using Google apps on an iPhone or iPad.
So what does Google know about me?
You have the right to ask this question because we are living in a world where privacy only exists theoretically. The data tracking that Google does is the reason why you see advertisements relating to your most recent searches.
You can view your data if you know where to look, and even download a packet of all Google data kept on you.
- You can see an overview of Google’s information on you via their advertisement settings, which is an outline of how they target ads for you.
- You can also check your web activity history, including both websites, visited and searches performed.
- Google also has a webpage for the location history it keeps on you. This information is usually more thorough for Android users than iPhone users.
- You can view both your YouTube watch history and your YouTube search history.
- You can review which apps and websites are using your Google credentials for your sign-in or accessing information from your Google services in your Google account permissions.
- Last, you can download a data packet with everything Google stores on you. Simply go to https://takeout.google.com/settings/takeout, make sure every product is turned on, click the Next button and follow the directions. Google will email you a link to download your data packet.
How do I stop Google from collecting my Data?
An extreme way to limit or stop Google from gathering data about you is to simply stop using their products and services. You can switch from Android to iPhone, install the Firefox browser and begin using DuckDuckGo and/or WolframAlpha instead of Google Search.
But you don’t need to be quite so dramatic if you simply want some basic limits on how much Google knows about you. In many cases, you can opt-out of Google storing data about you.
- Toggle what Google tracks in the Google Activity controls. You can turn off location tracking, web and app activity, device information, voice and audio activity, and YouTube search and watch history.
- You can also customize the privacy settings on your Google account. If you click Get Started under the Review your privacy settings section, Google will walk you through privacy check-up.
- Google Analytics is a service Google provides to help analyze website visitors. You can opt-out from Google sharing your information when visiting websites that use the service.
If you would rather be safe than sorry, you can install Firefox or use another browser for general web browsing and never have to sign in to Google using the browser. This will help reduce the amount of data Google can link back to your account. You can also install privacy extensions into the Firefox browser that can delete cookies, restrict Facebook tracking and other privacy features.