How Much Does Google Know About You? Check Out 'My Activity'

Did you really go to St. Croix last weekend? Nice.

Your business is Google’s business. What was once just a search engine is now the internet’s headquarters, and within those headquarters there’s a directory of almost everyone online. Within one of Google’s virtual file cabinets lies your own file. Inside that file is all your business. My Activity, a new web app from Google, makes that file decipherable — and editable.

Google likes to share this fact with its users. In part, it’s to make them more informed about what it knows, but it’s also supposed to improve user experience. The more Google knows about you, so the argument goes, the better able it’ll be able to serve — and predict — your cyber needs.

So every once in a while, Google bundles up all its information on users, designs an interface, and shares it. It did so with Dashboard, and now it’s doing so with My Activity. My Activity is comprehensive: it displays browsing, search, device, app, and location histories. Googlers can filter and search within these histories, and make any emendations they see fit.

Not a very busy day.

Google assures users that it will definitely not share personal information with anyone bad: Google promises that everything will remain private and secure. Now, Google might share this hyper-organized and interpretable data with advertisers. But it’s doing its users justice by making this service opt-in only. Since your browsing history already dictates the ads you see across the web, the ability to painlessly customize and refine your browsing history will affect those same ads. Opt-in means users will soon be prompted with a choice to turn on the service. If a user ignores the prompt, nothing will change.

Media via Google / My Activity, Flickr