Google and Facebook are the biggest players in the tech world, for many reasons. The most important asset is their data resource. These tech giants offer ‘free’ services to the world and, in return, collect copious amounts of your information. If you’ve ever questioned these free services or wanted to know what the catch was, it’s your data. The price of ‘free’ is data.
These companies didn’t get to where they are by only taking though, they offer beneficial products and they also offer you tools to access and review the information they have on you. Most of us have accepted that everything we do online is tracked and stored. But for those who find themselves itching from the inside out, let’s start with Google: How can you find out what Google knows about you and what can you do about it?
Google probably holds more information about you than anyone else. If you thought your best friend or mum knows you best, think again, because Google does. Yes, they grab standard information like age, gender, interests, search habits, location history, but there could be more that you aren’t aware of, based on your browser permissions. – Sophie Curtis, mirror.co.uk
To start, ensure you’re logged into your Google account. If you have a Gmail, Google + profile, then you will have a Google account. Once you’re logged in, type https://myaccount.google.com/ into the search bar. This is what you will see:
On this screen you will be able to see which of your devices have access to your account, which apps are connected to your account, what search data Google has on you, the different locations you’ve been to, and your interests (who Google thinks you are). Lastly (this is Google after all), you also have control over your information. You are able to delete what you want, and you’re able to download your Google data.
Now, how to find out everything Facebook knows about you?
There are three main ways that Facebook uses to figures you out (Julie Bort, Business Insider). Firstly, what you tell Facebook directly when you sign up and fill out in your profile/bio. Secondly, your activity on Facebook, so what you do when you’re on Facebook. Things you’ve ‘liked’, groups you joined, photos, videos and links you’ve shared, basically anything you click on. Thirdly, Facebook can also track everything you do outside of Facebook such as websites you visit. Don’t be too alarmed – most websites allow this via cookies, which allows Facebook to then read those cookies.
Knowing what you’ve shared with Facebook, and what you’ve shared with friends on Facebook is much simpler to find out than finding out who Facebook thinks you are. To help with this, Facebook has put together a slideshow that helps you control the ads you see. Click here to watch the full guide.
If you don’t want Facebook to track what you do outside of Facebook, there’s a way to opt out. Click on the lock icon on the blue bar on your Facebook dashboard (next to the notifications icon). Then clicks on ‘Ads’ on the left navigation dashboard, and then select ‘Off’. – Julie Bort, Business Insider.
Now that you know what is actually in your control, the question is, will you be doing anything to change what Google and Facebook know about you? Would you take the steps to remove what you aren’t comfortable with or not?