How Google Tracks Your Personal Information

An insider’s account of the dark side of search engine marketing

Patrick Berlinquette

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Google marketers like me are closing the gap between your offline and online worlds—and crushing your soul in the process. Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

When lazy journalists are pessimistic about Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home, they say stuff like: “Even Orwell couldn’t have predicted that we’d willingly bring Big Brother into our own homes.”

What they fail to mention is our willingness to exchange privacy for convenience didn’t start with the advent of virtual assistants. It started in the early 2000s, when people—in return for having access to Google products and seeing more relevant ads—allowed Google to have all their data.

Today, Google provides marketers like me with so much of your personal data that we can infer more about you from it than from any camera or microphone.

There have never been more opportunities for marketers like me to exploit your data. Today, 40,000 Google search queries are conducted every second. That’s 3.5 billion searches per day, 1.2 trillion searches per year.

When you search on Google, your query travels to a data center, where up to 1,000 computers work together to retrieve the results and send them back to you. This whole process usually happens in less than one-fifth of a second.

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Patrick Berlinquette

Founder of a NY search ad agency (like we need another). Finding humor in ad tech’s depravity. Writings @ NY Times.