What Does Google Know About You?
As Google offers many free services to users, it's biggest source of revenue is its advertising service, Google Ads. In order to improve this service, Google collects data from the information you create your account with, activity while using Google apps and platforms, location, time of day, and previous interactions with ads*. The goal is to personalize your searches and advertisements so that you are more likely to engage with them.
Viewing Your Ad Personalization
Google provides a helpful dashboard where you can view categories you most likely belong to or are interested in. Click here to access the dashboard.
Once you have entered the dashboard and signed in to your Google account, it should look similar to the image above. Before scrolling through the list of predictions, keep the following in mind:
- Are any of the predictions accurate? Are any of the predictions wrong?
- How specific are these predictions?
- What activities on Google's platforms could have caused these predictions?
- Are you okay with Google making these predictions?
Viewing Your Location Timeline
If you've given Google the necessary permissions you are able to see the history of your locations by clicking here. Once in this page, your view should similar to the image below.
This is a zoomed out view of your location history. The red dots signify places that you have visited while Google has been tracking your location. In the bottom left click the red box to see a more detailed list of these places. Then, if you want to get more specific data, you can use the timeline options to select a specific day you would like to look at.
The data you can see here includes the timeline of the day, all the routes you travelled in, and even your mode of transportation.
While exploring your timeline history keep the following in mind:
- What is the earliest date in your timeline?
- Is there any place missing from your timeline?
- How accurate is this information? Keep in mind time, location, and mode of transportation.
- Do you want Google to keep tracking this information?
Changing Your Privacy Settings
If you have checked out the previous activities and would like to change some of the permissions Google has, you can visit Google's Activity Controls. Here you can turn off tracking or customize settings for your location history, web & app activity, YouTube history, and ad personalization.