Ever since Google launched their search engine service in 1998, the tech giant has become more and more sophisticated at understanding – and catering to – our needs, leading to a more “personalized experience.” Call it what they want, many users find it downright frightening.
So, how exactly does Google collect so much specific information about you? It relies on its proprietary ad space and applications. For example, when you type in a search query on the Google search engine, your browser stores that data, which it can later use to make educated guesses about your preferences. It can then reuse that data later in the form of targeted ads that, hopefully, you’ll click on.
It also relies on other Google apps, like Google maps or Gmail, to make inferences about who you are. Here is an incomplete list of Google apps we use on a daily basis and what data they can collect:
- Google Maps: Locations searched and/or visited
- Google Hangouts: Your contacts and conversations
- Google Chrome: Your search history
- Google News: The publications and stories that interest you
- Google Shopping: Products you like, shops you visit
So, what can you do prevent your online activity from being tracked? Here are a few:
- Use a VPN
- Use private browsing
- Turn off location reporting
For a comprehensive list of how Google tracks you – and how you can avoid it – take a look at the infographic below: