Does Google collect "way more" personal data than Facebook?

Facebook was bombarded with negative publicity in 2018 after a data breach involving up to 87 million users

Published March 11, 2019 1:10PM (EDT)


This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

Facebook and its billionaire CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, were bombarded with negative publicity in 2018 after a data breach involving up to 87 million users. But in a new report, Axios’ Ina Fried demonstrates that Google “actually knows way more about most of us.”

How much Google (which offers the world’s most widely used online search engine, hands down) knows about users, Fried explains, “depends to some degree on your privacy settings.” But a more important factor, Fried quickly adds, is “which devices, products and services you use.”

Fried notes that the information Google collects ranges from “the videos you watch” and “purchase activity” to “the terms you search for,” “people with whom you communicate or share content” and “the ads and content you view on Google’s sites.”

Google has its own browser (Chrome) as well as its own mobile operating system (Android) and its own e-mail program (Gmail). And Fried points out that Google collects the “Chrome browsing history you’ve synced with your Google account.”

Fried also notes some information that Google doesn’t collect,” including  “Internet traffic from its Google Wi-Fi home routers” and “Google Docs data from business customers that use the paid enterprise version.” The journalist adds that Google “used to use the content of e-mails in Gmail to choose ads to display,” although it has quit doing that because “other data is more efficient.”

Fried goes on to say that there are some things users can do to reduce their exposure to Google—for example, one can “use another search engine, like Microsoft’s Bing” or “choose not to stay signed in to your Google account when using its services.” But even so, Fried stresses, “It can be incredibly tough to block out Google entirely” because “Google’s services power so many others. If you really wanted to shut out Google, you’d also have to give up Uber, Lyft and Spotify.”

By Alex Henderson

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