I Trust Google, Despite My Fear of Data Brokering
I can vaguely remember a time when Google didn’t exist. I was there when dial-up was fading away, I was there when WiFi became a thing and then of course, Google came along.
How did we as a society exist before Google? Encyclopedia Britannica was helpful or God forbid, even a real encyclopedia. The world seemed so small in the days before Google. Who would have thought that this search engine would become one of the most successful companies in the world. I for sure thought Ask Jeeves would power through.
With the recent announcement of the Google Pixel phone, Google can really do no wrong. I personally, am obsessed with Google. Their clean interface and easy to use applications make them fool proof. I mean, who doesn’t think Google Drive is the best thing ever invented? It makes using the internet simpler, in a time when the the internet seems all-encompassing.
But while being an internet mogul, there is something so human about Google. Did you know that every year for April Fool’s Day Google pulls a prank that trolls everyone? It’s little details like that. Or when they started creating the “Google Doodles”, which greet you when you pull up the search engine.
On semi-related note, working there looks like a freaking blast. Weird slides and nap pods? Where was this in college?
But as like smart Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility”, and society has now become responsible for keeping an eye out for its privacy. In recent years, a tool called data brokering that businesses use to trade your information has become the bread and butter of marketing.
What kind of information you ask? Personal information is the big one. Basically any time you have ever clicked on a link, watched a video, scrolled through a site. The online footprint you leave is sold to companies, which is then used to package things to sell to you. It’s like when you’re looking for a laptop on Amazon, the next website you visit might have an ad banner for that laptop, or you might receive emails about coupons for that laptop.
Which sounds great right? In some ways, sure. Some companies will use this information to lure you back into buying that product, which could mean coupons or discount codes. The shady side though is that a lot of companies (including your phone carrier) take this information without asking, all because you didn’t read the terms of agreement and clicked yes. Everyone does it, we are all guilty of that.
So how does this affect my relationship with Google? Google is one of the largest online businesses in the world, you know they are dealing in data brokering.
What I appreciate about Google is that for the most part they are pretty forthcoming. It’s not like with Apple where you have to buy into their brand or else nothing will work (seriously, who uses their Apple ID?). The company is very compatible with other products and it’s really easy to keep your online presence in check.
Interestingly enough I Google myself from time to time to make sure no one is catfishing people with my information, although flattering. Making sure you get rid of your web cookies, clear your history occasionally, just so that companies aren’t stock piling your information somewhere is another big one. Data brokering can turn into a black hole of paranoia, but being aware of it can really ease your mind.
Google is like cookie dough. I love it, I know in excess it’s bad for me, but I’m an independent woman who can take care of myself. We cool either way.