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Google is Watching You

 |  Interwebs, WTF

Call me naive, but I’ve always been fairly blasé about online privacy. Aside from not publishing any photos showing my face, I take no real steps towards hiding my identity. You could probably find out my entire life history—including past addresses, education and employment details—with a little nifty Googling and some lightweight stalking.

Why, then, was I surprised when I logged in to my Google account earlier to find that Big Brother Google knows who I am across the web (twitter, flickr etc) AND also knows about accounts that I have created on behalf of other people/services that are in no way linked to me publicly? I mean, it’s fairly obvious how Google has linked them to me ‘behind the scenes’… but I can’t help but feel like I’ve been perved on by an old dude in his bedroom, peering out from behind his curtains with a pair of binoculars.

I can delete my info and connections as I see fit, but only an idiot would assume that’s the end of it. Oh, to start over again.

Jem Turner jem@jemjabella.co.uk +44(0)7521056376

9 comments so far

  1. Amelie said:

    You’ll probably find it knows about those connections because people with Android phones have set them up. On certain devices (mine included) I can link all my contacts – which come from my Google account – with their Flickr/Twitter/Facebook/etc accounts (I declined the offer, just so you know) – wouldn’t be surprised to find Google spying on all that info and storing it. I’ve also found mine linked in such ways and I know I didn’t (at least consciously) do it.

    Tip (for others, I’m sure you know of it already): Google dashboard is a useful thing.

  2. Jem said:

    Some of the things Google knows about, my contacts wouldn’t know. The only possible link are the e-mail addresses, which happen to be set up as forwarders to my main e-mail account.

  3. Anna said:

    It won’t be the end of it. I listened to an interesting segment on an NPR show the other day about how google (and other sites like Facebook, etc) filters pretty much all of your computer activity to “customize” what it thinks you’d WANT to see when you search. They talk about just how far google really goes to know everything about you.

    You can listen here: http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201105191000

  4. Rebecca said:

    I just find naive safety in banking on the fact that Google probably doesn’t care about an insignificant person like me :P

    This also reminds me of my spaminess yesterday :\ I got my account back but it was strange. So strange that I thought for a bit that perhaps Google was in on it :\

  5. Mumblies said:

    Precisely why I use Lavasoft’s free spyware remover at least once a week. Most of the tracking cookie doofers sell on email addresses and suchlike to companies so they can use the info to hound you to buy their crap.
    I have noticed that there appears to be less spam/spyware stuff connected to Firefox over Chrome although that may be just my imagination.

  6. Chantelle said:

    Yep. I have a unique name (as in I am the ONLY person who comes up when my first & last name are goggled). People stalk me on the Internet all of the time, so I’m very aware of what’s there. The only thing I do is make sure that everything is “good.” Oddly enough, though, Google doesn’t know about all of my accounts because I don’t use the same address and/or my full name all the time.

    What’s more interesting to me is that google keeps track of all search queries, which can (most of the time) be linked to a computer/IP address.

  7. Jem said:

    I wouldn’t rely too much on it mum. It doesn’t protect you from Google’s reach. Even my basic stat tracker can tell me every single movement you’ve made on my site + time spent, date, etc. That’s the kind of privacy invasion I’m talking about…

  8. Mumblies said:

    Well Jem, if they are that sad to want to shadow me and my life they will get really bored very fast. I wouldn’t even bother doing my banking online if they got around to making banks fully wheelchair accessible but I have no choice there. Heyho, they won’t get much out of me – my limited funds in/out don’t last long and as I have a cardcash account I cannot overdraw so even if someone did get that info they wouldn’t get much more than a couple of quid out of me. :) It is annoying though, you go from one site to another and get bombarded with adverts selling the stuff you looked at the day before, or just before.

  9. Vera said:

    Like Rebecca, I like to think that Google (or anyone really) would have much more interesting things to look for than look me up on the Intertube. That said, I do try not to let my anime-related comments/musings be linked to my blog. You know… just in case I get carried away or something :P

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