I had a very stark realization one day about my Google usage, google knows more about me then I do.
This may sound paranoid, but if you dig into just a tiny bit, it’s kinda disturbing.
My intent will be to back this stuff up with numbers and facts, in the meantime, this is all just my opinion… so without further ado.
Google Analytics is the most popular site traffic monitor (as far at I’m aware). As a site owner, it’s kinda cool, google can tell you about things you’d never know otherwise, like age, gender, interests, which can be great, if that is something you want to see. However, it means google has managed to collect that data about enough of the people using your website that they can tell you.
If that was it, it really wouldn’t be a big deal. However, then there is Google search. So they know what sorts of things you’re looking for, they know which links you click, and they have done this so much they have gotten pretty good at knowing what you’re looking for before you can finish typing it.
Again if it was just one or two pieces it wouldn’t be such a big deal, then, between docs, drive, and gmail they know everyone you talk to, and everything you type up. for years I kept my tax returns on Google Drive, so I could share them with my wife.
Again this isn’t all of it, like a lot of people I have a Google Android phone, and even now, still use Google Maps, and used to use Google photos. The side effect was that even when not using a Google app, google recorded my physical location. today every time I use maps, it offers to remember my location history, with the promise of making life easier.
Google photos is its own can of worms, with the facial recognition which allows Google to understand a lot about your life, and the people you keep around you.
I remember looking through the automatic albums of faces, and it had picked up on a parent of one of my daughters friends, whom I don’t really know, but we’ve been chaperons to some same kids birthday parties over the course of a year or two apparently.
There is of course more, like the Chrome web browser, which has had issues like by passing system dns and used Google’s dns, which is just one more way google can see what you do online without you being actively involved in providing information.
I could go on for a while, google Android keyboards recording with what you type, voice to text, with your voice complete with a transcript, Google Ads on websites you visit, and some websites are hosted on Google’s cloud servers…
More Than Just Google
I know this has been a lot about google, but there are several large companies who collect a lot of data about you. Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft being the other big 4.
Now for me personally, I don’t have any Apple devices, and don’t have either an apple or Microsoft account (which means no xBox, nor Skype, and so on).
Despite my lack of Microsoft account, most of my computers run Windows 10, so I accept that they likely know more about me then I’d like them to. However, that is something that I still need to dig into.
Facebook tends to track your movements online by the little share button on a lot of websites, even if you don’t click it. This is on top of all the personal stuff people willingly post to facebook on their own.
Amazon quietly became my go-to store for anything but food, and has spoiled me with 2-day shipping on everything.
Probably the most interesting aspect of amazon, is that like Microsoft and Google, they have offer cloud servers.
Now, given that you always use https, even if the website you visit is hosted on Google or Amazon or Microsoft, there would be limits to what information they could be gleamed, but it’s another thing I’m interested to look into more.