How Google Tracks Your Every Move: Real Truth
Google knows more about you than you
You’re probably aware that Google keeps tracking us on what we are up to on its devices, apps, and services. But have you ever thought about what type of data Google collects? and How google tracks your every move. What are all your activities that google is keeping an eye on? You might not realize just how far the tracking has extended in the past few years. In this article, we will see how Google tracks your every move and the real truth.
Google offers its services free of charge, but have you ever thought of how they can always offer so much for the free? Nothing in this world comes free. Everything has a price (Well, obviously we are not considering John Wick’s car ;p). With over 3.5 billion Google search queries per day, we send plenty of data to this search engine. And that’s what we are feeding Google. You’ll see by the end of this article, how this seemingly affordable price and this seemingly good deal come with serious implications.
So, today in this article, we are going to talk about how Google can LITERALLY track your every move. Whether it’s using an app on your android smartphone or shopping anything from the internet or just swiping your notifications. Google is tracking your every move out of nowhere.
So let’s begin.
The amount of data Google collects:
Most of the online activities we perform, or the websites we visit, they all are collecting our data. But what matters the most is, what data is being collected. Check out the brief list of what types of data Google is collecting and we will guide you on how you can prevent your data from being collected excessively.
The best place to start checking what Google’s tracking habits is the Activity Controls page in your Google Account on the web. If you’re currently signed in to Google in your browser, open https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity and scroll down a little and you will see how your each and every action is tracked here. The data Google holds on you is split into three major sections.
- Web & App Activity
- YouTube History
- Location History
Let’s have a detailed look at each and every section.
1. Web & App Activity:
Web & App Activity, which is — as you might guess from the name — everything you do on the web while signed into Chrome, everything you search for while signed in to Google, and everything you do inside Google’s apps. It also includes what you do on your Android Smartphone. Here are a few examples of what Google is really tracking.
- Apps you open: If you are using an android smartphone, Google can keep track of what app you open, what time you open, from which device you opened, and from which location you opened the app. Have a look at the below screenshots from myactivity section.
- The websites you visit: If you are using Google search or Google voice assistant or Google Chrome to browse the internet on your mobile device or personal computer, then google is tracking your surfing on the internet. The website you open, the ad you clicked, the page you got redirected to, every move on the internet is tracked by Google.
- Notification Actions: Have you ever seen some notifications of system apps that are hard to get rid of? Well, some of the system notifications like weather news or location service are handled by your Android OS and Google is keeping an eye on what you do with notifications. Have a look at how Google keeps the history of notification which is DISMISSED by the user.
This notification will be shown at the location though my location is turned off. We will talk about this in our upcoming topic.
2. Youtube History
Have you ever observed some kind of pattern on YouTube? The suggestions and recommendations they show you are way too similar to your past viewed videos or your past video search. Have you ever wonder how this recommendation theory works?
As you can imagine, Google doesn’t just passively store your personal data. Instead, it actively connects various types of ‘dots’ to create a virtual image of your persona. This includes everything about your past, present, and future — including your interests, and even your thoughts and deep (maybe even dark) secrets.
As of now, YouTube is storing two types of data.
- YouTube Search History
- YouTube Watch History
3. Location History
We have seen how Google is storing all your activities and search history. But when it comes to location, Google is storing it in a little different way. If you navigate to Manage Activity in Location History, Google will redirect you to https://www.google.com/maps/timeline where you can see how all your historical locations are pointed in Red dots. Moreover, you can select some period from the timeline to see your historical locations as well. Try exploring what else Google is storing under the Location tab.
What else Google Knows about you:
We have seen how much data Google stores about you under various tabs. Apart from this, there are other data which is not stored directly but still, Google is storing that. Depending on what kind of information you gave to Google in the past, here’s how well this company knows you right now.
- Your personal details (including your appearance):
Google knows your name, gender, and your birthday. It also knows how you look like if you’ve used Google Photos before and tagged yourself.
- Your voice: Tried Google Assistant before? Or maybe you’re a proud owner of a Google Home smart speaker? Everything you said to either of these services/products has been recorded. Among other things, Google knows how to recognize your voice.
- Your interests, education, political, and religious beliefs:
Have you searched via Google how to join a political party? Have you inquired online about your local school? Watched political or religious content (or any other type of content) on YouTube?
- Your health status:
As helpful as Google Fit can be, this app requires your personal data before it can operate. You input your height, weight, and your daily level of physical activity, and Google Fit can take it from there. This service will collect your daily step count, as well as how far or near you are from your physical goals.
- Your income:
Google can analyze your financial information, in addition to creating patterns based on how you spend your money. The search engine knows what kind of items you’re interested in (thanks to Google Shopping), and it can see whether you’ve purchased something after all, or not. By analyzing your money spending habits, the company knows your income status.
- Who your friends are:
Depending on the type of phone you use, Google collects your contacts, call logs, and even your messages. The company knows who you talk to as well as how often.
- Everything that you like and dislike:
Across various apps and services, you can input and send additional information to Google about the things you like (and those that you don’t like). For example, you can ‘like’ books, types of news, topics of interest, YouTube videos, and more. All of this information paints a pretty clear picture of your interests.
- Your plans for the future: Made any travel plans via Google Flights or Google Trips? Searched the Web for specific colleges or courses? Taken a look at various job boards? Maybe you’ve been worried about your health, and turned to the world’s most popular search engine to check your symptoms? Google knows what you’ve been doing as well as what you plan on doing, for sure.
And Here’s How to Protect Your Privacy!
If your goal is to exert more control over your data but you still want Google services like search and maps to personalize your results, we recommend setting your data to auto-delete after three months. Otherwise, feel free to delete all your data and set Google to stop tracking you. For most of the day-to-day things you do with Google, you won’t even notice the difference.
- Sign in to your Google Account
- Scroll down and click on Web & App Activity
- To turn it completely off, move the toggle to the off position. But beware — changing this setting will most likely make any Google Assistant devices you use, including Google Home and Google Nest smart speakers and displays, virtually unusable.
- If you want Google to stop tracking just your Chrome browser history and activity from sites you sign in to with your Google account, uncheck the first box. If you don’t want Google to keep audio recordings of your interactions with Google Assistant, uncheck the second box. Otherwise, move on to step 5.
- To set Google to automatically delete this kind of data either never or every three or 18 months, select Auto-delete and pick the time frame you feel most comfortable with. Google will immediately delete any current data older than the time frame you specify. For example, if you choose three months, any information older than three months will be deleted right away.
- Once you choose an Auto-delete setting, a popup will appear and ask you to confirm. Select Delete or Confirm.
- Next, click Manage Activity. This page displays all the information Google has collected on you from the activities mentioned in the previous steps, arranged by date, all the way back to the day you created your account, or the last time you purged this list.
- To delete specific days, select the trash can icon to the right of the day then choose Got it. To get more specific details or to delete individual items, select the three stacked dots icon beside the item then choose either Delete or Details.
- If you’d rather delete part or all of your history manually, select the three stacked dots icon to the right of the search bar at the top of the page and choose Delete activity by then choose either Last hour, Last day, All-time or Custom range.
- To make sure your new settings took, head back to Manage Activity (step 4) and make sure whatever’s there only goes back the three or 18 months you selected in step 5.
Likewise, you can delete your YouTube history and location history as well.
Once legend said PRIVACY IS MYTH ON INTERNET. If you take care little, you can track less. But 100% privacy is not possible on internet.
BY: DHRUVIL ‘JÊRRŸ’ BHATT
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