What Google Knows About You: Uncovering Your Privacy Settings
We live in a digital world where our personal data is constantly being collected, stored, and shared. Google is no exception, with its vast network of products and services that collect and store our data.
Now, Google has done some great things. Google Search is still the standard all other search engines are held to. Everyone uses Gmail, and Google Docs has brought word processing and collaboration to everyone for free. That said, Google is an ad company, and the tech giant collects a massive amount of data on its users and beyond.
Privacy is not Google's priority, but by understanding how they collect and use online data, you can better protect yourself and your personal information. Here, we'll explore what Google knows about us, how to secure our privacy settings, and what tools we can use to manage our data.
Everything Google Knows About You
Google is one of the most powerful tech companies in the world, and its suite of products and services has become embedded into our daily lives.
From searches to emails, maps, and more, Google collects data about us without us even realizing it. This data includes our location, browsing history, contacts, and plenty of other things we think are harmless.
In the wrong hands, your data can be used for all kinds of different purposes. Your data is a valuable and powerful tool for tech corporations like Google to better sell you on products, guide you to certain types of content, and push public opinion on political issues.
What Information is Google Collecting?
Google collects a wide range of data about its users, including your location, browsing history, contacts, and more. This data is used to personalize your experience and show you targeted ads. Understanding what data Google is collecting and how it's being used is essential.
Whenever you utilize Google services, they will rapidly start to track your data. Google services have access to your personal details, emails, residence, workplace, interests, websites you visit, videos you watch, ads you select, device location, IP addresses, cookie data, and much more:
Web browser type and settings
Device type and settings
Operating system information
Mobile network data, which includes the phone provider and phone number
Application version number
IP geographic location
Regional geographic area
Preferred language details
Search terms on Google
Videos you watch
Views and interactions with content and advertisements
Voice and audio details
People you communicate or share content with
Activity on third-party websites or applications that use Google Services
Chrome browsing history when linked with your Google Account
Website analytics: Sessions by page, users by location, pageviews by device, average time on page by channel, bounce rate by channel
You can learn more about the data Google collects by going to your Google account and clicking the "Data & Personalization" tab.
The sheer amount of data collected by Google may seem overwhelming, but understanding privacy settings in their apps and how to protect our data is essential. While we can't totally disappear our data online, we do have the power to limit what Google knows about us and take control of our data.
Understanding Your Privacy Settings
The first step to securing your data is to understand your privacy settings. Google has a range of privacy settings that you can adjust to limit the amount of data Google collects. You can find these settings by going to your Google account and clicking on the "Privacy and Security" tab.
These settings include turning off location services, disabling ad tracking, and changing who can see your Google profile. It is important to carefully review the privacy settings of any Google service or application, granting or denying permissions as desired.
Once you understand your privacy settings, you can start to secure them. This includes adjusting the settings to limit the amount of data Google collects about you. For example, you can turn off location services and disable ad tracking. You can also adjust who can see your profile and what information is visible to others.
This same practice should be applied to all web services, not just those from Google. If this step is missed, data tracking is automatically enabled, leading to your personal information being distributed to third parties. Additionally, all web browsers, especially Google Chrome, have the option to adjust cookie settings to suit your privacy needs.
While changing settings may not seem like a big deal, understand that each setting can immensely affect your privacy. While one setting may make a slight difference, setting all your preferred preferences across your whole account and all your web services will add up significantly.
It's prudent to review and update your privacy settings regularly. Google (and other tech companies) regularly update its settings, so staying current on the latest changes is wise.
How to Delete and Prevent Data Collection by Google
If you're concerned about the amount of data Google is collecting, there are steps you can take to delete and prevent data collection.
You can find these steps by going to your Google account and clicking on the "Data & Personalization" tab. Here, you'll find a range of settings where you can delete data that Google has collected about you and prevent further data collection.
There are too many individual settings to list here. Take the time to go through each one carefully and decide which to enable or disable. Further information is generally provided in Google's Help Center. If you are still trying to figure out a setting or feature, a quick search can save your personal privacy in the long run.
You can also use Google's Activity Controls to limit the amount of data Google collects. This includes turning off location services and disabling ad tracking. You can also adjust who can see your profile and what information is visible to others.
Steps Can You Take to Limit Google's Access
In addition to managing your privacy settings, there are steps you can take to limit Google's access to your data. This includes using a password manager or password strength checker to create strong passwords. Enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) to protect your Google account and other online accounts is also a smart practice.
You can also use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your data and keep it safe from third-party apps. Additionally, you should look into acquiring a capable ad blocker to prevent unwanted ads and tracking cookies.
What Tools You Can Use to Manage Your Privacy Settings?
There is a range of tools you can use to manage your privacy settings and limit the amount of data Google collects. These include browser extensions, such as Privacy Badger and Ghostery, which can help you block tracking cookies and other unwanted data collection.
You can also use Google's own privacy settings to limit the amount of data Google collects. You can find these settings by going to your Google account and clicking on the "Privacy and Security" tab.
How to Protect Your Data From Third-Party Apps
It's not just Google that's collecting your data. Third-party apps can also access your data if you permit them. To protect your data from third-party apps, you should only give permission to apps that you trust. To further protect your data from third-party apps, there are some basic steps that you can take.
The first step is to be very selective about which third-party apps you allow access to your data. It also relates to data integration tools and other apps providing manipulations with data.
Read reviews and research the developer of the app before downloading and using it. Be sure to understand the data the app collects and how it will be used. If you are not comfortable with the data that the app is collecting, do not download the app.
The next step is to enable two-factor authentication whenever possible. This extra layer of security requires the user to enter a code or answer a security question when attempting to access the data. This makes it more difficult for someone to access your data without authorization.
The third step is to be aware of the data that you are sharing. When using a third-party app, take the time to review the app's privacy settings and make sure that you are only sharing the data that you are comfortable with. Do not share any sensitive information, such as your home address or bank account information.
Finally, be sure to regularly update the third-party apps that you use. Updates can include critical security patches that help keep your data safe. If you are not sure if an update is available, check the app's website or contact the developer directly.
Remember to regularly review the permissions you've given to apps and revoke access if necessary.
Can We Stop Google From Data Collecting?
Securing your privacy settings is essential to protecting your data from Google and third-party apps. It's important to understand your privacy settings, how to secure them, and what tools you can use to manage your data. With the right steps, you can limit what Google knows about you and take control of your data.
Unfortunately, it's almost impossible for us to stop Google and other massive tech conglomerates from collecting our data for profit. But we can push for user-first and privacy-friendly legislation. On top of that, we can avoid Big Tech products in favor of open-source, private, secure alternatives.
Author bio: Mia Naumoska is a Chief Marketing Officer at Internxt - world's most private cloud storage. Having over a decade of experience in the marketing field, Mia is responsible for Internxt’s overall marketing strategy and managing an amazing team of marketing experts.