You might think of Big Tech companies as untouchable giants that are far removed from your everyday life. In reality, these companies want to get close and personal with you. Google is an especially ardent admirer, which is why you might want to discover all the things Google knows about you.
Maybe you thought Google wouldn’t know your age, gender, marital status or hobbies. Actually, it collects a ton of personal data so it can serve you ads you want to click on — and ads are far and away the biggest money-maker for Google. Tap or click here to stop ads from following you online.
If you want to know all the things Google knows about you, read on. Here are three lists showing some of the data Google collects.
1. Google knows everywhere you’ve been
Google Maps knows all the countries, cities and attractions you’ve visited. If you have Location History enabled on your Google account, you can see your Google Maps Timeline.
This feature lets you see exactly where you traveled in the past, from towns and countries to attractions and restaurants. You can even filter by specific days. For example, if you vaguely remember a restaurant you visited last May, you can search your timeline to rediscover it.
You can check your timeline on the Google Maps website and the mobile app.
How to check your Google Maps Timeline on a computer
- Log into your Google account and head to the Google Maps website.
- Then, click the hamburger menu in the top-left corner.
- Now that the entire side menu is open, click Your Timeline.
- Then, select Your Places > Visited. Now you can rediscover old places in the Google Maps Timeline!
How to check your Google Maps Timeline on your iPhone or Android
- Open the Google Maps app.
- Tap your profile or initials. Then, select Your Timeline.
From there, you can swipe to explore or select certain days. You can even learn about places you visited by tapping the tabs at the top of the screen, like Places, Cities or World.
How to pause Location History
On your iPhone or iPad, open the Google Maps Timeline. Tap Settings > Pause Location History.
On your Android, open Google Maps, tap on your profile or initial and select Your Timeline > More > Settings and privacy. Tap Location History is off.
If you’re on a computer, go to Timeline, click Settings > Pause Location History.
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2. Check Google Photos to see everything Google knows about you
Google tracks and records your every move, including the location data of photos you have taken. Check your Google Photos settings to see what the company knows about your traveling habits, the places you visit and how long you were there.
To make a long story short, location tracking in the Google Photos app comes down to metadata. This refers to the hidden data embedded within the pictures you take. If you don’t turn off location tracking for images, your photos reveal where you stood when you took them.
You can also use this to your advantage, like seeing an old photo and thinking, “I’d love to go there again.” If you can’t remember where you took old pictures, your metadata holds the answers. Tap or click here to find out where you took a picture.
Whether or not you want to turn off location tracking, you should first see all the data Google Photos has collected. Here are two ways to check Google Photos and see everything Google knows about you:
How to check Google Photos on the app
- Open the Google Photos app.
- In the bottom bar, tap Search.
- Under the Places section, tap View All.
Now you can see the entire location history. You can even use the map to browse photos by place.
You can also check location data on your computer. But it won’t be as comprehensive as what you see on your smartphone app. Nevertheless, here’s how to track down location data on Google Photos from a Mac or PC:
How to check Google Photos on your computer
- First, go to photos.google.com.
- Then, tap on a specific image and click the Info button.
If you want to stop Google Photos from tracking your location data, we’ve got you covered.
How to turn it off
- First, open Google Photos.
- In the top right-hand corner, click Settings.
- Select the Sharing tab.
- Tap or click the slider that says Hide photo location data.
3. Your ad interests reflect almost everything Google knows about you
Ad personalization is a huge deal on Google. It bases this information on a few different factors, like:
- The personal information you voluntarily added to your Google Account.
- Advertiser data from Google partners.
- Google’s algorithms (which are surprisingly adept at guessing what you like).
If you have Ad Personalization enabled, you can see what Google knows about you based on search history, browsing data and more. It’s not always 100% accurate, but it can get pretty close.
To check it out, go to your Google account, tap or click Privacy & personalization. In the Ad settings sections, tap or click Ad personalization to see the profile Google made based on your internet habits.
How to turn off Ad personalization
It’s pretty easy if you’re on a desktop computer. Head to the Ad Settings page and slide the toggle under Ad personalization to the left to turn it off. Here’s what your screen should look like:
You’ll still get ads, of course. But they won’t be tailored to your interests.