Love it or hate it, Google owns your online identity. We all love their products so much that we use them everyday. Much of my own blogging business relies heavily on Google – everything from four Gmail accounts, Google+, algorithm search, Google Analytics, Google Webmaster tools and of course the Google search engine – worlds most recognized and most used search engine.
Due on my excessive use, I think Google may know almost as much about me as I do. I’m surely not the only G freak out there, because most of my friends and colleagues in blogging have an @gmail email address too.
But there’s more. Do you ever wonder how Google came onto the scene? If you recall, they just appeared out of nowhere. This is likely why many feel G is definitely government owned. I’m not going to comment on this now as this is a topic that deserves a post of it’s own.
I will add this though: Back in 2011, ex-G CEO Eric Schmidt admitted at the Edinburgh International Television Festival that G+ was built primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it relies on people using their real names. Therefore using personal info such as location and name to build future products that leverage that information.
That’s one way that G knows about you, and is able to recommend ads that suit your location, preference and wants. Furthermore, based on your search history, they probably know if you’re looking to buy a new car or are planning a trip. But to be fair to Google, they aren’t the only ones to know these things. Anyone who extensively uses Yahoo services, for instance, is probably giving up all of this information and more as well.
Also, it’s likely that no entity within Google has access to all of this information. And particularly, one assumes the financial data is protected, so although Google as a company may have all of this data, it’s unlikely that there’s any one person or team within Google who could aggregate it all and use it. We have, however, seen portions of this data be used together and will continue to see it used more over time — notably with personalized search.
In the end I firmly believe that we’re all just another statistic to build Google’s all mighty algorithm. But I won’t get into that either, and instead I will share with you things Google knows about me (and maybe you) and how they acquired the info.
1. Finance Fox and Blogging in General
Google knows that I own a blog because I rely heavily on Google to bring me traffic daily. Google Analytics tracks the state for this blog and Google Webmaster tools hosts thi’s blog’s XML site map – a requirement in order for the search bots to know when you’re publishing, how often, what links are being used, and who’s reading the material after it’s published.
2. How I Look
My picture is published in G+, and all throughout all four of my @gmail email accounts. If you don’t use either of these services, maybe you use Google’s Picasa Albums – yet another way Google knows how you look. I personally don’t use this service.
3. My Schedule
I’m a user of Google’s calendar service for my appointments and future tasks.
4. My IP Address
Even though my IP changes automatically every so often, Google knows my IP address every time I open up a browser and my main page is the iGoogle page.
5. My Mailing Address
I surrendered this info when I signed up for my Adsense account. Without a legit physical address I couldn’t sign up. Well I could have, but all the checks would be sent to a faux address.
6. My Phone #
Recently Facebook introduce the phone# login feature – another way to log into your account without using your email. Google has been on the phone# train for a while, because Gmail requires a mobile number for signup and account verification.
7. First and Last Name
I entered this when I signed up for my G+ and Gmail accounts. Also it’s in my Gmail headers and a strong requirement on most Google service signup forms.
8. My Likes and Preferences
I use the Google Reader heavily, so Google surely knows my favorite stores, blogs, RSS feeds, news sources and probably my preference for white or black colour Calvin Klein underwear as well.
9. What I Say
Even if they aren’t reading my email, they have every entry in my Gmail Contacts and between Gmail and Google Talk, let’s just say Google has a pretty good idea of what’s on my mind and what my next move might be.
10. Banking Info
Google knows my banking info such as branch and routing number – this is associated with my Google Adsense account.
That’s a lot of personal information Google knows about me – likely more than most people who know me in real life. And through a combination of algorithms and editorial nudges, that’s how suggestions are individually crafted to suit my interests and needs. The more I watch and share, the more chances the system has to learn, and the better its predictions get. Google is like the perfect TV channel: always exciting, always relevant and always on time. It gives me only what I want, and is always commercial free.
I put together a list of ten ways Google knows a shit load of information about me. I’m certain that they could tell me more about myself, and even surprise me with some of my personal likes, dislikes and historical trends.
But to conclude, I’ll leave us all with one question that’s begging to be asked: Whom did Google built this service for? For us or for them?
EddiePhoto Credit (halilgokdal)