If you’re worried about Google tracking you around the internet, you’re not alone. Targeted ads are becoming better at integrating themselves amongst our results from the search engine, and the amount of data that Google has on each of us is enough to give anyone a fright.
Wait, what information does Google collect about me?
If you’re signed into Google right now, it’s collecting a whole bunch of your data. Thanks to Google (and DoubleClick which is their advertising sidekick), the things that we search for, the videos we watch, the pages we visit and the ones we choose not to are collected and reduced down to a single profile - who Google thinks you are.
If you fancy giving yourself a good scare, here’s how you can check what Google has on you. Although it’s likely that a few factors in there are going to be inaccurate, it’s surprising how correct Google is. It effectively stated one of our teams marital status, age, and that they were interested in parenting despite not being a parent themselves.
Can’t we just turn off these features?
Technically yes, but it’s easier said than done. You can turn off your ad personalisation, but when you use Google’s search engine you agree to share that data with Google, and you agree to them popping ads in your results. Even if you’re vigilant with deleting your history after every time you search something (and seriously, who has the time or energy to do that), you can’t stop Google offering you tailored content in real time.
For some people, this absolutely isn’t an issue; who cares if Google knows that I’m into metal and tv comedies? However, if you’re ready to tell Google to get lost, there are some alternative search engines you can use.
DuckDuckGo has been heralded as the anti-Google search engine, and from checking out it’s website it’s easy to see why. Privacy is at the forefront of it’s marketing, and it states that it won’t ever collect your data or track your clicks. For those wanting more privacy, DuckDuckGo is the answer. If you’re not ready to make the move, they also offer an extension for Google Chrome to add ‘privacy protection to your browser’.
If your priority is saving the planet, Ecosia is the search engine for you. Ecosia uses the money it makes from advertisements to plant trees where they’re needed the most. From a privacy perspective, according to their website, ‘we don’t sell your data to advertisers, have no third party trackers and anonymize all searches within one week’ - definitely an improvement on Google.
If you like the idea of money generated by advertisements going somewhere other than Google’s pocket, EveryClick might be the answer. It’s powered by Bing, which despite being no DuckDuckGo in terms of privacy, certainly scores better than Google. It works by using the ‘Give as you Live’ shopping links to raise free funds at different online stores. Then they make a donation to the charity of your choice.
These are just three of the alternative search engines that are out there - but if you’re thinking about giving Google the boot, there’s a bunch more of them out there.
Ok I’ve switched! But is Google still following me?
Unfortunately Google’s data collection doesn’t stop at search engines. If you’re using an Android smartphone, watching videos on YouTube, or using Google Drive or Google Home, then your data is still being collated and recorded. Our top tip if you’re concerned about privacy is to read the small print. Privacy policies are dull as dishwater, but the answers to what’s going on with your data are in there - read carefully before you agree.
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