Here’s How Google Tracks You – and What You Can Do About It

Privacy  /  Tech Today
Scroll this

Privacy and data security (Yahoo!, Evernote, and Russia, we’re looking at you) are emerging as big topics for the coming year, so we thought we’d boil down an earlier, beefy post on Google into this handy infographic. Because if you’re online, chances are good you’re engaging with the company one way or another. What Google products are you using? What are your device settings as you use them? Starting to think through these questions will not only help you understand how Google tracks you, but it will also help you make more informed decisions about what’s being done with your data, and whether you’d like to rethink how you use Google products and services.

For more detailed information, including clickable links to the resources mentioned, check out the backing post here.

Embed This Image On Your Website (copy code below):

Here’s how Google tracks the things that make you you (and what you can do about it).

Quantifying the googleverse

If you’re online, chances are you’re using a Google product (whether you know it or not).

50% More than half of these searches come from mobile devices.

61-81% Global market penetration for Android.

78.8% Global market share for Online Search.

$67.39 Billion in annual advertising revenue.

2 Trillion number of individual searches annually

30-50 Million Number of websites using Google Analytics for traffic/user tracking.

700,000 Number of apps available in Google Play Store

79+ Number of Google products and services

82% Global penetration for YouTube

The information Google gets from you:

According to Google, only three kinds of personal data are collected from its users:

  • Things you do
  • Things you create
  • Things that make you “you”

How Google gets all your data:

Your digital persona grows the more you use Google products to search for stuff, read and send email, browse the web, use apps, and especially if you own an Android mobile device. For example:

Your Google Account, which is linked to Gmail, Chrome, Google Drive, Google+, YouTube, etc., to name a few.

Google Adwords – Your web search and browsing behavior that interacts with Google Adwords

If you’re one of 1.4 billion Android users, Google knows your:

App purchases and use

GPS location over time

Voice searches

Your pictures and videos

Your web pageviews and actions on any of the 30-50 million websites and apps that use something called a tracking pixel, and sends your data to Google Analytics.

What Google knows about you – and how to see it

For each of the ways Google tracks you (that we know of), there’s a place to go to see the data.

Active History: Much (possibly all) of your web activity is stored by Google – including deleted browsing histories. To delete portions of all o the activity history, look for the little button on the top left of the page referenced below.

Google Adwords Profile: Web and mobile activity sends signals used to build a profile for serving ads. This includes your age, gender, location, income, and other demographic data. You can view and even update your Adwords profile.

Location History: If you use Android and/or Google Maps/Waze and have Location Services turned on, then you’re leaving a GPS trail everywhere you go. Google Play also shares your location information with third-party apps.

Audio History: If you use voice commands to do a search, you create an audio history. You can listen to the recordings of your voice and see the text Google took from each voice recording.

Device History: If you use an Android, then Google has all your app data, contacts, and details on your current and past devices. The company knows what apps you are using and who you communicate with.

How to download all your data to your computer

A tool called Google Takeout can generate a compressed archive of everything. You can get a link to the archive emailed or have it saved to Dropbox.

So, like, who cares? Do you?

Privacy, choice, and control. How important are these to you? Ultimately, the only one who can answer this question is you. But if you’re in the concerned column, know that you are not alone.


People who value privacy, choice, and control over their digital photos use Mylio. Learn more at or @mylioapp on Twitter.

Embed This Image On Your Site (copy code below):