Yep. The answer is yes. Because Google knows everything.
During lockdown, I’ve been trying to listen to one podcast per day from Today In Focus, by The Guardian. I would highly recommend them – they discuss random but important issues like where our recycling really goes, and the horrors of what Jeffrey Epstein did. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.
One episode, made back in August 2019, discussed how much data and information Google collects from us. It was slightly scary, learning that Google could know more about me than my closest friends do. If I go to a restaurant, they most likely know which restaurant I’m at, how long I’m there for, and who I’m there with. As with most scary stuff, my reaction was to laugh about it, as I usually attempt to find the humour in something, in order to make it less scary. After writing down my quality banter, I thought, this is blog worthy content! And so, here we are.
If Google saves all my data, which they do, that means they know a lot of shi* about me. For all I know, they could be reading this blog. They know that at 20 years of age, an age where I should really be aware of these things, I had to search for the following…
- Meaning of equitable
- Meaning of dynasty
- Meaning of urbanisation (I’ve forgotten GCSE geography)
- What posting bond is
- Synonyms for ‘amazing’
- Where gerbils come from
- The lyrics for Boss Bitch (I should know it by heart by now)
- Killing Eve actress (I forgot Jodie Comer’s name in the middle of a zoom quiz)
Oops. Here I am, a wanna-be blog writer, when I can’t even remember what continent Peru is in sometimes.
And then there’s the tracking aspect. The internet giant probably knows that I’ve been sat on my arse for quite a while and haven’t gone on a run for 3 days in a row now. Pre-covid-19, Google was probably getting worried for me after my third late night Tesco trip in the space of a week, just for some sour watermelon sweets (I was stressed ok).
Google likely has the potential to screw up a fair few marriages…like the fact that your wife spent 4 and a half hours at some rich dude’s house last week. Yikes.
But aside from the possibility of spilling some dirty secrets, how dangerous really is Google’s habit of hoarding so much information? I’d say I’m a pretty average woman. I’m not emailing any terrorists about our next move, I’m not snap chatting Boris Johnson about how to make our government even more corrupt, and I’m not part of a lads WhatsApp group chat making ill comments about a gang rape.
So I think it’s fair to say that Google is in no position to fuck me over. Yet, some people go to great lengths to avoid Google obtaining any information about them. One of the guys on the podcast mentioned how he uses DuckDuckGo as an alternative. This search engine is pretty much the exact same as Google, except, it doesn’t save any of your data. They take pride in respecting your privacy. Before this podcast, it had never really occurred to me that any other search engines existed. Why would they, since Google is so damn huge?
The only other one I’d heard of before is Ecosia. This search engine plants a tree for each time you search something. Pretty cool, right? Like DuckDuckGo, they also clearly state that they don’t save your data. Their Privacy tab promises to not only protect forests, but your privacy too – no information is sold to advertisers.
I have to agree, seeing an advert for HiSmile on Instagram after only briefly mentioning to my friend that I wish teeth whitening services could be cheaper (whilst my phone is just chilling next to us), is rather creepy. But then again, there have been a few times where an advert has cropped up on Facebook/Instagram, very obviously targeted at me, and I’ve clicked on it, realised I do actually need/want that product, and bought it.
So I’ll leave the question up to you – is Google a nosy little bitch, or your own personal assistant?