There was a time when Google was simply a search engine. Albeit one that we always knew collected a lot of data to make search results — and ads — more relevant.
However, over the years, the Google properties have grown to include things like Android, Gmail, Google+ (anyone?), YouTube, Docs, Drive and many, many more.
Have you ever stopped to think what things and pieces of personal data that you are sharing with Google, and in some cases, anyone with the ability to Google it? Don’t be scared if you are someone who has not kept up with the changes that Google has made across it’s properties over the years. While it is easy to tick boxes, accept terms and not look, Google has realized that they are not Facebook – and to an extent do value privacy. To prove this commitment, earlier this week, Google rolled out a new tool called About Me that walks you through what you are sharing on the Google platform. To get started, visit: https://aboutme.google.com and then select “Privacy Checkup.
After you select “Get Started,” you will get taken to a tour of your online privacy and what you are sharing. This begins with Google+. During each step of the way, you can select what data you are comfortable sharing with different audiences including everyone.
Depending on what services you use with your Google account, you will get warnings from the search giant that excluding sharing with Google on some products will cause potential harm on the operation of the app or operating system.
Even if you have the Fort Knox of security settings, this exercise that Google offers is actually pretty good to make sure that you are not over-sharing your valuable data across multiple platforms. We’d recommend running through this process at least once a quarter since we know that no one really reads those T&C documents when downloading an app.
While this tool is great from Google, it is just the start of things that you should be doing to protect your data from advertisers, third-party app providers or cookie warehouses. Before you go on with a cookie warehouse would be cool – we aren’t taking the ones you eat, but the ones who collect your data.
What do I do?
Here are five tips that we recommend you follow on a regular basis (set a calendar update) to make sure you are staying safe on the web:
Hopefully these tools will help you moving forward and we suggest you run the test ASAP. Talking to some colleagues, we were all shocked at some of the settings we did not know we opted into. There are 6 links that will show you some of the data Google has about you.