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If you’re one of the millions of people currently using any popular web-based service from Google — Google Maps, Google Chrome or Gmail, just to name a few — odds are, the amount of personal data they’ve collected on you is extensive, to say the least.
As consumers continue to use these apps to organize their day-to-day and get to where they’re going, Google develops a pretty detailed profile of who you are and what you’re up to in order to optimize and monetize their services.
Take a look at some information they may already know and what you can do if you’re looking to get a bit more private with your personal data.
What does Google know about me?
Even if you frequent Gmail or the popular web browser, Google Chrome, as opposed to a combination of different services, it’s highly likely that the amount of information they know about you is far beyond what you’d expect.
Check out what Google already knows about you and how that information is being collected.
You can check out what Google knows about you already by logging into your account profile. On the lefthand side, click on the Personal info section of the main menu to see basic info like your name, date of birth and email addresses on file.
In the Data & personalization section under the Activity controls, you’ll find all data stored for your profile categorized by the Google services you frequent. Click on any section to view more details on what’s already been recorded.
What can I do about it?
It’s safe to say that Google can extract a good bit of information from the services you frequent and can use this data to serve up personalized advertisements just for you through any one of their associated apps. Luckily, there are ways to opt-out of sharing so much with the tech giant if you know where to look.
Edit your privacy settings
According to Google, all data collected is only to help make their service more useful to you. But if you’re willing to take a hit in quality for the sake of privacy, you can disable any collections settings via the Data & personalization menu mentioned above.
To stop all data collection altogether, you can simply disable Web & App Activity across all Google services. If you’re looking to pause tracking on certain platforms like YouTube or stop specific forms of data from being used to inform ads (your location history, for instance), those options are available as well.
If you don’t want your data influencing your ads at all, you’ll also have the option to disable ad personalization in the Ad Settings menu in your activity controls.
There are additional ways to restrict Google’s access and use of your personal data, including browsing in incognito mode or deleting your Google accounts altogether. However, if you want to continue using your Google services and the convenient features they offer (Password auto-save, for instance), you’ll need to alter your settings to fit your privacy needs.