Bryley Basics: How to determine what Google knows about you

Gavin Livingstone and Anna Darlagiannis, Bryley Systems Inc.

If you ever wondered why those pop-ups are becoming more targeted (and more invasive), you might be aware that your profile information (name, email address, location, etc.) and web-surfing habits are being shared with others.

It is an unwritten agreement:  Google helps you search the Internet and gives you handy applications (Gmail) and websites (YouTube), but it shares your information with others (i.e.: advertisers).  And, it collects and retains everything!

There are two main sites used to review what Google knows about you:

  • Web and App Activity – Details that you provide when you sign-up for a Google-owned web-site or application.
  • Ads Settings – Data that Google derives from your web-usage behavior.

The former is typically required, but voluntary (as in you can choose to not visit the website or not deploy the application); the latter is always collected and analyzed.

After logging in to Google, I discovered my Web and App Activity data included:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Gender
  • Age

From Ad Settings, it was pretty clear that Google stores years of information on every site visited, with implications that are Big Brotherish.  (I wanted to pull out my aluminum-foil cap and relocate to a cardboard box in the forest, but cooler heads prevailed.)  I found out that I had these interests (which were previously unknown to me):

  • Hair Care – My hair is mostly intact, but graying with age.
  • Bicycles and Accessories – Too old for that; probably get hurt.
  • Hygiene and Toiletries – Isn’t everyone at least a little interested in hygiene?

Basically, you can access and delete this data, but it takes some effort and you will endure constant nagging from Google when doing so.


Please visit Julie Bort’s excellent article (5/6/2016) from TechInsider: How to find out everything Google knows about you.