Who do you trust? Death and taxes seem like sure bets. Well, maybe death for everyone, and taxes only for the less than wealthy 1-percent crowd. With moment you’re online, with every app you use, with every website you visit, someone, somewhere is tracking what you do.
That means famous and less famous technology companies are gathering information about you and your online habits; sifting through the data, selling some of it to third parties, but using as much as possible to, 1) help you, or, 2) to manipulate and influence you.
Of the two options, which one seems to resemble Apple’s approach to collecting information about you, and which one seems to be Google’s approach. Straightforwardly, both Apple and Google (and Facebook) gather and use an enormous amount of information about you.
Since Apple works diligently to anonymize the information it gathers from customers and users, Ina Fried decided to find out how much Google knows about you.
The bottom line is thin:
Just how much Google knows depends to some degree on your privacy settings — and to a larger degree on which devices, products and services you use.
Yet, it’s safe to say there is a vast difference between what information about you gets collected by Apple vs. Google.
Google is the undisputed leader in the tech giants’ race to accumulate user data, thanks to its huge array of services, devices and leading share of the digital ad business (37% to Facebook’s 22%). It likely knows everything you’ve ever typed into your browser’s search bar and every YouTube video you’ve ever watched.
I’m online a few hours a day, and I use a number of applications which also use Google Analytics to track users, so the amount of data that is gathered over many years must be staggering.
No wonder I got so many ads for fishing boots for a week after I did a couple of Google searches for fishing boots.
It may also know where you’ve been, what you’ve bought and who you communicate with.
How is that not scary? Seriously.
Such targeted advertising is used to influence and manipulate you while you’re online. Mac360’s Wil Gomez thinks such “Targeted Advertising Should Be Illegal” and if there is enough outcry it will be.
Advertisers may disagree, but after having been tracked and stalked incessantly for the past decade by the likes of Google, Facebook, and others of similar ilk, their advertising still sucks. Hey, advertisers, just because I searched Google for CBD oil doesn’t mean I need it by the gallon. Hey, Amazon, just because I bought a scissor jack doesn’t mean I’m starting a collection.
By comparison, what information does Google collect about you? Fried:
- The terms you search for.
- The videos you watch.
- Voice and audio information when you use audio features.
- Purchase activity.
- People with whom you communicate or share content.
- Activity on third-party sites and apps that use Google services.
- The ads and content you view on Google’s sites, as well as interactions with that content.
- Chrome browsing history you’ve synced with your Google Account.
- Location data, which Google can either gather directly via GPS data or infer from other sensors and data, including IP addresses, nearby Wi-Fi routers and Bluetooth beacons.
Is that not sufficient information for Google to run a successful advertising business? Facebook works much the same way and between the two own more than half of all online advertising.
Can you understand why I refuse to use Google’s Chrome browser, and why it is sad that Microsoft has abandoned its own browser to use Google’s Chromium platform? Can you understand why I complain about Apple collecting billions in profits from Google each year to keep the search engine giant the default search on Safari’s one billion users?
Fried has a good list of options if you want to avoid Google’s collection agency, but it may be too late.