Here’s How Much Google Knows About You (Spoiler Alert: It’s a Lot)

There’s a new wave of privacy awareness in the wake of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. People are suddenly realizing the amount of data “free” services collect and its implications. To spread awareness and help you take control of your data, today we’ll be taking a look at Google and its various services.

Google Timeline

Every place you have been to (with GPS turned on), since you first used Google on your portable device, is stored by Google. This includes the routes you took, how long it took you to go somewhere and even the date and time of your journey.

Your trips to landmarks and other cities are also actively stored and you can even view data related to trips that you made years ago, even the forgettable ones.

Here is my location data in Islamabad. It shows the places I’ve been to recently and highlights places I usually visit.

google tracker timeline

You can check your own location data using Google Timeline.

Application Data

Google uses data from all applications you use to create a “profile” for you. That means, it knows how many apps you have on your smartphone, which ones you use often when you use them, and who you use them to interact with.

This helps them know when you go to sleep and of course, who you interact with before sleeping, for example.

To check your application data, click this link: Google MyAccount

Advertisement Profile

Google also has a complete list of your interests and creates your advertisement profile based on your gender, location, age, relationship status, and even recent searches.

This profile is generated from either data compiled from Google Services (Google Search and YouTube) or 2 million+ websites that partner with Google to collect your data.

For example, if you watched a YouTube video related to car repair, Google will note that and start showing you car-related advertisements and vice versa.

You can check your advertisement profile here: Google Ads

Things You’ve Searched And Deleted

All of your searches and history is compiled across all the devices you use and stored in one place. Even if you deleted a browsing session or phone history from one of your device, it could still be saved somewhere in another device.

Remember that this history not only includes Google searches, it also includes data from other services such as YouTube. So whatever kind of videos you watch or things you search for, Google is able to determine your interests and mood depending on your history

Check your search data here: Google MyActivity

Use this link to check your YouTube history: YouTube Feed

Millions of Word Documents

Google has a “takeout” feature which allows you to download an archive containing all of the data which Google has stored related to you. The archive can include data from any Google service of your choosing, with a total of 32 different services. Here are some of these services:

  • Google +,
  • Calendar,
  • Chrome,
  • Maps,
  • Contacts,
  • Hangouts,
  • Keep,
  • Mail,
  • My Activity,
  • Google Photos,
  • Google Search and many more.

These contain pretty much everything on you, Google Drive files contain your personal data and pictures, Google Mail has all your transactions and dealings with businesses, Calendar stores all of your events, My Activity has all of your search history, Chrome monitors every browsing session, Maps tracks your every movement, Google Photos has all of the pictures you took and is also capable of facial recognition, Keep contains all of your notes and shopping lists, Contacts has phone numbers and pictures of all the people you talk to, and so on.


Google Maps Will Now Tell You When to Travel to Avoid Traffic Jams

My takeout archive took more than 30 minutes to prepare and had a size of 5 GB – 5 GB of data which is mostly just text. It translates to around 3 million Word documents, imagine that.

You can get your takeout archive from this link: Google Takeout

Do you think Google can be trusted with this much personal data? Leave your opinion and feedback on this article below.

  • If they use my data to personalize services for me in a better way i’m fine with it. It’s not like their employees are personally checking my data and could use it to harm me in any way.

    • Question: What if the treasure trove gets leaked? Most of netizens fail to understand the importance of privacy . It perhaps overcomplicates their life for them. They fail to realize that once their privacy is breached or compromized, there are no remedies, no second chances to start over.
      We should at least demand decentralized and anonymized data collection.

      • It’s not that they are storing my bank account information on Google servers. I’m fine if it gets leaked. There is equal chance of a stalker without internet to harm me as an internet stalker

  • if you let the all the setting on by default, they will sure utilize it for advertisement purpose, it will help them to understand the geographic cultural trend. sure they can understand alot more then “trend”

  • What if I don’t use my device and keep it in pocket while I consult things with friends to buy and very next day they start showing me relevant ads ?

    So they record our voices too… Anyone else experienced this thing?

  • I use Gmail in Urdu language and Islamic calendar on Google Calendar. Apple does not offer these services, so I am always loyal to Google.

  • You forgot one major thing – this is all anonymous data. There is no personally indentifiable information that Google has. Super misleading article.

  • it does not matter , they are doing for our own interest. with Google Maps , i can go those places in which i have been there without consulting again to anyone.

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