Ever wondered how Google shows relevant search results to you even before you type your keywords? Or how Google shows you the ads that mach your interests? Yes, you got it right; Google collects data from the users while they are online. There are various ways in which Google collects user data. This post will give you a very clear idea about what Google knows about you. Let’s start:
Google Chrome is world’s most used web browser. It means, it has way more information about users stored on its servers as compared to other web browsers. Google Chrome provides users with easy access to their bookmarks, saved passwords and many other online services. No matter where you are, just sign into Chrome using your Google Account and all your personalized settings will be available right there. At the same time, Google also collects user’s search, browsing and usage history. Google keeps track of each and every activity that you are performing online, especially in Google Chrome. If you want to see your search history that Google has stored, just click this link. If you are visiting this page for first time, you will see some introductory slides, just click Next to move on.
Now, you will see your entire Google search history. Each search that you made on Google and websites you visited will appear here. You can also clear this history if you want. Just click on “Delete Activity by” in left side menu and select range of dates to delete history of.
Next thing that Google knows about you is your interest. By analyzing your online behavior and search history, Google knows what kind of ads to present you when you are online. Google has vast ad network of more than 2 million websites and 100+ ad providers. Almost every website that you visit daily has Google ads on it. By knowing your likes and dislikes, Google presents you more relevant ads. Click here to see what Google thinks about your interests. On this page you can see the list of the things that you like and list of things that you dislike. Google uses these lists for ad personalization. You can manually ad an interest or remove any from list of your likes. Once you remove any of your likes, it automatically moves to the list of your dislikes. You can also turn off Ads personalization by turning off toggle switch next to “Ads personalization”. This will not stop Google from showing ads to you but ads won’t be relevant to your interests anymore. It’s not a bad idea to keep Ads personalization ON; maybe you can get a good offer someday.
Like other things, Google also keeps track of the places that you visit. Google tracks your location in three common ways – by using GPS of your phone or by using data services or by using both. You may have started feeling insecure but it’s something you have agreed to by using Google’s services. And it is useful too. It helps you by saving places to your Google Maps. You can save multiple places on your Google Maps and navigate to them later or when required. To check the list of places that Google has stored, click this link. Your location history will be displayed. If you are visiting this page first time, you will have to go through some introductory slides like before, just click Right Arrow to finish it or simply click on skip at the bottom.
Now, you can see the places where you used Google to do anything. You can explore the list of all places that you have visited. You can manually turn off your location history by clicking on Manage Location History.
Ever wondered which Google services you are using? You would think of Google search, Gmail and Maps and may be few others. But to know what Google services you are actually using, click this link. You will be directed to a Dashboard showing the list of all Google services you are using. Most common services include Email accounts, Adsense, Analytics, Android, Blogger, Books, Brand Accounts, Calendar, Google Chrome, Contacts, Google Drive, Gmail, Google Play, Google Plus, Groups, Google Maps, Package tracking, Payments, Google Photos, Youtube and many more. You can click any of the services showing on your dashboard to check details of that particular service.
Like Google Search, YouTube saves all of your searches too. YouTube uses this search history to show you better videos in Suggested Videos. This way YouTube delivers you more relevant videos and ads. You must have noticed that after searching about specific topic on YouTube, will see more of those type of videos on your dashboard next time you visit YouTube.com. Click this link to see your YouTube search history. Besides YouTube search history, you can also check your Watch history, Comment history and Community history here. Just click on radio button next to history type on right side of the page. You can also remove any history item by simply clicking on cross (X) button next to it.
So, how does Google collects so much data about you? There is one simple thing called permission. Google or any other service provider will always ask you for your permissions to access your data. Over the time, you might have provided various permissions to many apps and services. And maybe you are not using most of them anymore but they are still connected to your Google account. Click here to see the list of apps and type of permissions you have given to the extensions and sites you use.
You can click on any of the App or site to see which permissions you have given them. You can also revoke permissions of specific app or website by clicking on Remove Access button. Next time you will use that app or website, it will ask for your permissions again.
So far you have seen that Google has a lot of information about you ranging from your search history to your personal interests, likes and dislikes. Apart from all other services, Google also provides Takeout service which allows you to export each and every information that Google knows about you. You can make a compressed archive of all your data and download it to your computer. Google also provides facility to break your data into multiple small archives if your data is too large to be downloaded in single file. To takeout your Google data just visit this link and select the services whose data you want to export and click Next at the bottom of the page.
You will be asked to customize archive settings. Select type of archive. There are two options – .zip for Windows and .tgz for Linux, select based on your Operating system. Next, you can break your data into small archives ranging from 1GB to 50GB if your data is too large. Under Delivery method select an appropriate option. If you want to get a link to download data to your local computer, select Send download link via email. Alternatively, you can also save your data to Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive.
It seems like Google knows a lot about everyone. But you always have control over your data and on how it is being handled. It’s a good practice to keep track of permission you have provided to apps and websites and remove old app permissions if you are no longer using them. Be safe online, enjoy, have fun!