What Does Google Store About Me?

There is no question about the impact of Google on the way we interact with the internet. Beginning with a simple yet powerful search engine, Google has grown through development and purchase of other tech companies into the biggest technological conglomerate since Microsoft. It’s no coincidence that “to google” has come to mean “to perform an online search” in common slang. Many services provided by Google are widely recognized as being at the forefront of their respective fields, whether it’s video sharing through YouTube or the resource-laden email experience through Gmail. This is in part due to the tremendous amount of data Google collects and shares across its different products.

Any massive business is going to face criticism — some of it deservedly — and Google is no exception. While Microsoft is widely lambasted for poor quality control in certain circles, it’s Google’s attitude towards information gathering that has some groups concerned. Google makes no secret of the information that it gathers, but it can be difficult for some users to understand what they are agreeing to when they allow Google to store data about their activities online.

To help make the whole process more transparent, Google has unveiled another product in its vast empire: Google Dashboard. Dashboard is a helpful tracker that sums up the information Google has collected about your profile in one place. It includes everything from the latest search you performed to the number of emails sitting in your Gmail account at the moment. While this is a huge amount of information, there are a couple important things to remember. The first is that Google only collects information about things that you do while using their services and while you are signed in to your account. For example, Google will have data about which YouTube videos you have favorited, but not the ones you have “liked” through Vimeo. Similarly, if you have both a Gmail and an AOL email address, Google will only have information about the Gmail account.

To view your Google Dashboard, visit http://google.com/dashboard. You will need to re-enter your password even if you are currently signed in to a Google account. Once there, you can see the information stored with your account. You will also see links next to every section about privacy policy and how to change your privacy settings. You can also delete information Google has been storing about your account.

The sheer amount of data Google stores is staggering, but it’s important to remember that much of this data is only ever made public in the form of aggregated, non-personal information. That is, Google does not tell third party advertizers that any specific user searched for “droid phone reviews” but rather the overall trend of users searching for that term in a geographic area or timeframe. In the same vein, Google does not share the contents of your emails or chats. You can read all of the Google privacy policy at http://www.google.com/intl/en/privacypolicy.html.

The safety of your system and personal information has always been our top priority. While we believe that you should be aware of the information that you should be aware of what information you are sharing with others, we in no way want to give the impression that you should cease using Google or Google products. Dashboard is a useful tool to analyze and manage the information you are giving to Google, and it’s another way the company is attempting to honor their responsibility to protect their users privacy.

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