Google is the biggest search platform on the planet. The company started out as a search service provider but it has grown to be a tech company that produces products in both the software and hardware markets. Today, the company controls a huge share of information as a result of its Android platforms as well as the apps that come with them. Google knows a great deal of information about you - much more than you think the company knows. Let us look at exactly what the company knows and how you can limit its ubiquity.
1. What you look and sound like
With smartphones coming with microphones and cameras, there is no doubt that Google knows exactly how you look and what you sound like. This information about you is collected by the company's various apps. Apps like Chrome, Gmail, Search and Photos among others have the capacity to recognize your face and sound using inbuilt algorithms. By 2011, Google was able to analyze over 10 million images. If you use apps like Google Assistant, the company definitely knows your health status, diet routines, likes and dislikes, and even your political beliefs.
2. Your location
Google also knows where you have been and where you are at any given moment. Apps like Maps, Search and Chrome have the ability to track your movements and keep sensitive information about you. The company knows your workplace, the places you travel to during weekends and probably where you are planning to go next. All this information is collected progressively and it is stored for a long time.
3. Your activities
In addition to knowing where you are, Google also knows what you are doing. Apps like Calendar, Waze, and Search are all equipped with very specific features that enable the company to know about your activities. When you search for particular guides or directions to a place, it is possible for the company to know what you are likely to do in the places that you travel. The fact that the company knows such sensitive information has forced many people to consider boosting their privacy. Some modern privacy tools come with VPN protocols that allow users to specify particular aspects of information that they want to remain private.
4. The people closest to you
Google knows about the people in your life and also those you are closest to you. Google Hangouts, Contacts, Gmail and Calendar are all applications which allow you to communicate with friends and family. By tracking the frequency of your communication with particular individuals, the company can know who your closest friends are. Google Contacts, in particular, is where you reveal all the information about your contacts.
5. What you talk about
In addition to knowing who your friends are, Google also knows about what you discuss. The chat and text data that you send via Google apps and other Android apps remain in the system and can often be stored in the cloud if you permit that option. The company thus knows exactly what you have been talking about with friends and also the meeting arrangements that you make, among other things.
6. Your hobbies and interests
One of the things that people search the most is usually what they like. This is why Google knows about your favorite books, videos, movies, and food among other things. Google collects all this information when you make searches online but also when you specifically add particular items to your list of interests. Apart from that, the kinds of topics that you follow on Google News also give the company a hint about what you like to explore. YouTube, Shopping, and Books are more places where you leave clues as to what you like the most.
7. Your general plans for the future
It is amazing how much information Google knows about your plans. Often, you want to buy something from the online markets and when you visit a shopping site you see the item you want to buy as a recommendation. This is because of the ability of Google to use your apps to determine what you plan on buying and where you want to travel. Apps like Calendar, Search and Gmail are all sources of information about your plans.
8. Your online activity
Google is able to keep track of your online activity - this is probably one of the things that most people are aware of. Browsers have had the capacity to store history and bookmarks for a long time. It is therefore no surprise that Google knows about the websites that you have visited, the websites that you are likely to visit and what you are likely to explore on the web. Much of the information about your online activity is collected from the browsers but also from other apps like Search and Gmail.
What you can do to stop tracking you
As stated earlier, there are various routes you can take to limit the ability to track you. One of those ways is using privacy tools. Privacy tools do not provide much privacy from companies. You need to make changes to your activities as well as your overall approach to privacy. To stop tracking you, you can:
1. Adjust your privacy settings
Much of the information that Google collects from you is gathered with your own consent. You should thus check the kind of options that come with the various apps that Google allows you to use. You can limit the rights that you give to Google by adjusting the app privacy settings.
2. Keep location monitoring off
When it comes to location tracking, the best way to stop tracking you is by turning off the location tracking. The GPS and navigation system that comes in smartphones can be easily turned off from the settings menu.