Are You Being Held Hostage By Google?

Nabila Akter Reya

19 September, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Are You Being Held Hostage By Google?

Have you ever asked yourself, “Hey, Google! What do you know about me?” The answer may be like this - “Here is a summary from Quora. When you search on Google, they keep your search history forever. That means they know every search you’ve ever done on Google. That alone is pretty scary, but it’s just the shallow end of the very deep pool of data that they try to collect on people.”

Google is a conglomerate that needs no introduction. The word conglomerate makes you feel a little bit uncomfortable, right? Do you feel any robotic vibe? Well, you should! Because before we see superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger (the robot from ‘The Terminator’) ruling the world, we might witness Google taking over the world, quite literally and well within the reach of science.

The fact is that our minds are under attack. At least that’s what I keep hearing these days. From the time you get up until you go to bed, you may not have 15 minutes without using a Google product or service. Do the test. Google controls your life, literally, even if it costs you to believe it.

Only 20 years ago, Google was reduced to a simple search engine that was becoming popular because it was looking for information and web pages quickly and accurately. Two decades later it tells you what restaurants you have to eat in, chooses your music, pays for your purchases, suggests the movies you should see, and the apps that may interest you. And that’s just a brief summary. Google oversees everything related to your life, even if you refuse to believe it.

You may be wondering - how is this possible? The truth may strike you like the lightning! Google knows each and everything about you. Google knows your address, the person you talk to the most, the places you visit often, the types of books you read, the types of brands you purchase and the types of sites you browse most often.

How do they gather your data?


Let’s look at “how” they are collecting your data. Understanding how Google collects data about you is a wonderful way to show how much the company understands you. And the reality is that with Google, there is no cloak and dagger going on. They merely store data that you offer them when they use their services. But they store nearly everything and maintain a record of it historically. Let’s take a look at which Google services are collecting your information:

•    Google Search: While using Google’s search engine, Google maintains a history for every search you made on the internet. This alone is a lot of data, but when combined with the following it becomes even more detailed.

•    Google Chrome: While Chrome may well be the best available web browser, it also gives Google a history of every website you've visited, even if you didn't reach that website through search.

•    YouTube: Google monitors your YouTube searches and keeps a record of every video you've watched.

•    Google Maps: Using Google maps will offer Google access to your place and history, particularly when using the navigation features.

•    Waze: You might not know it, but Google actually owns the popular Google maps’ alternative.

•    Android: This one may negate Google Maps and Waze simply because Google is also tracking your phone and doesn't need to rely on other services. It's also storing your text messages and your app usage, so it knows all about that ‘candy crush’ addiction you suffered a few years back.

•    Gmail: Yep, Google looks at all your emails. Or, it can anyway. And you're creating contact lists as well as calendars of events and appointments. Google says: thanks for sharing (everything).

•    Promotional e-mails you receive: Google is behind them. The data they collect includes tracking where you are, what applications you have installed, when you use them, what you use them for, your contacts, your emails, your calendar, your call history, the messages you send and receive, the files you download, the games you play, your photos and videos, your music, your search history, your browsing history, and even what radio stations you listen to.

•    Google Apps: This list could go on for a while, so let’s sum it up as ‘every other Google app or service’. This includes Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Photos, Google Drive, etc.

What is Google doing with your information?


With all this information at its fingertips, Google can group data together in a very useful way, and not just per user or visitor. Google can also examine trends and behaviors for an entire city or country. Google can use the information it collects for a wide array of useful things. In all the various fields where Google is active, it can make market decisions, research; refine its products or anything, with the help of this collected data.

For instance, you can respond efficiently to the market if you can find certain market trends soon. You can find out what individuals are looking for, what they want, and make decisions based on those discoveries. This is, of course, highly valuable and useful for a large company like Google.

And let’s not forget, Google earns much of its money by serving ads. Google makes on average $12 (almost 1010 taka) per person for their information, and the cost of storing it, I would say, is less than a fraction of a cent. The more Google knows about you, the more effectively it will be able to serve ads to you. What they essentially do is they take your information and then they build an advertising profile based on you. Advertisers pay to use that advertising profile to target you with the products and services that they want to sell.


Accessing Google data vault


To its credit, Google is making some of its enormous cache of data available to you as well via various services - Google trends, Google keyword planner and consumer insights. If Google can make that much data publicly available, just imagine the amount of data and details Google can get access to internally. And ironically, these services give Google even more data, such as which trend we are interested in, what sites we are trying to find information about, and so on.

Under such circumstances what people can do is just be a little bit careful online. I’m not suggesting you to delete Google or anything like that. Just try and keep in mind that everything you do online does leave a footprint and it will be kept forever. So, now you know how Google knows everything about you!