Google is a technology behemoth that provides a huge assortment of services, most of which are free.
Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Hangouts, etc can be used without spending a dime.
Instead, pay by giving information about yourself, which Google can use for advertising. Though it started in search, the lion’s portion of the company’s profits derives from ads.
Google has, possibly more than any other company understood that information is power. Information about the Internet, information about many trends, and information about its users, YOU.
Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” and it is making good on this promise.
However, Google is collecting, even more, information than most of us recognize.
● Searches (the web, images, news, blogs, etc.)
Google is, the most successful search engine in the world with a market control of almost 70%. Google tracks all searches, and now with search growing more and more personalized, this information is sure to become increasingly comprehensive and very user specific.
● Clicks on search results
Not only does Google obtain information on what we search for, but it also gets to observe out which search results we click on.
● Website Analytics
Google Analytics is by far the most popular website analytics package out there. Due to being free and still maintaining many exceptional features, it’s adopted by a considerable percentage of the world’s websites. (including us)
● Ad serving
Adwords and Adsense are foundations of Google’s financial success, but they also give Google with a lot of precious data. Which ads are people clicking on, which keywords are advertisers bidding on, and which ones are worth the most? All of these are valuable information.
Gmail is one of the three largest email services in the world, along with competing choices from Microsoft (Hotmail) and Yahoo. However, Gmail account is not off limits from Google’s data collection. On the contrary, its inception has granted the company with a wealth of information that’d otherwise be unobtainable. Google mines your inbox for data that may show your preferences.
The company also can analyze information found in the email with other publically accessible information to gain a better knowledge of you.
● Google Voice
According to Google’s Mobile Privacy page, the company says, “for products and services with voice recognition capabilities, we collect and store a copy of the voice commands you make to the product or service.” No doubt Google does this to improve its voice recognition services, but nevertheless: Google has a representation of your voice on file.
“All your tweets are belong to us,” to paraphrase an early Internet meme. Google has immediate access to all tweets that move through Twitter after a deal made last year.
● Google Apps (Docs, Spreadsheets, Calendar, etc.)
Google’s office suite has many users and is, of course, a valuable data source for Google.
● Google Public Profiles
Google urges you to put a profile about yourself publicly on the Web, including where you can be located on social media sites and your homepage, etc.
● Google Public DNS
Google’s DNS service doesn’t just assist people to get fast DNS lookups, it benefits Google too since it will get a ton of statistics from this, for example, what websites people access.
● The Google Chrome browser
What is your web browsing behavior? What sites do you visit? Need I say more.
The world’s largest and most popular video site by far, is, owned by Google. It provides Google an enormous amount of information about its users’ viewing habits.
● Google Maps and Google Earth
What parts of the world are you interested in?
Now that you are aware, what can you do? Well there are lots you can do, such as
To serve relevant ads, Google collects data about you and creates a profile. You can control and review the information Google has on you here: http://www.google.com/settings/ads/
Google also has a tool called Google Analytics, that helps publishers see what pages you have viewed on their website, how many times you have visited it, how long did you stay etc. You can opt out if you don’t want this type of data to be collected: http://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout
Google lets you export all your data: bookmarks, emails, contacts, drive files, profile info, your youtube videos, photos and more here: https://www.google.com/takeout