• Leon de Leeuw

How to protect your privacy on Google


Google has gone emperialistic by making search more personal. It tracks all personal data, mostly when a user is logged in via Google+. Other platforms are cross-linked as well, like YouTube and Google Maps. To summarize, Google knows a lot about you. Google has become a personal friend, like a wise owl you can ask anything.

All of your search queries are being stored and thus rememberd by Google. It will keep track of the pages you visit and so create a digital persona which is you. It will know when you have an interest in cars, so when you search for 'Jaguar', search results will bring up the car brand and not the exotic animal. Based on your location, it could even show you the nearest car dealership. This is all being implemented gradually so it does not come across as an invasion of privacy. It might be useful to get search results based on your own interest but at the same time it raises a question. Do we not exclude ourselves from the digital empire and its vast knowledge, by being in a niche and receiving results based on our own interest? It will show us the same restaurants, shops and travel destinations we have always been to which results in not experiencing anything new. The future will teach us.

To see what you have asked Google years back in history, check https://www.google.com/history and sign in with your Google account information. To keep a low profile on Google, try clearing your search history there now and then. You can even turn off the tracking completely at the Settings button, top-right in your screen. It is not the same as deleting it in your search browser, this is all linked to your account. We all know the occasional search we do for a pair of shoes or a hotel. For the next couple of weeks we are haunted by adverts showing up, based on our personal interest. Maybe useful, maybe annoying. It's up to you to decide but it might be good to know you can opt out these adverts by visiting http://www.google.com/settings/ads. Google will not tell you this because it depends on tracking your online life. To avoid search altogether would be radical and nowadays practically impossible but you might just reduce the feeling of 'Big Brother Watching You'.

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