A heads-up that on March 1st, 2012, Google will be updating their privacy policies and terms and conditions. Google previously had some 70 such policies, which they are now reducing and simplifying.
What does this mean for you as a Google user? Well, Google are being very clear that if you’re signed in with a Google account (which you may well do via Google Search, YouTube, Google+, GoogleMail or any one of a number of other sites) then they may combine information gathered about you from any of those platforms.
This will present itself as you’ll see a much more integrated service from Google. So if you search for a certain technology brand, you may see search results that incorporate videos or blogs that others have shared with you on YouTube or Google+.
How to check the info Google hold about you
On the downside, not everyone is happy about these changes from a privacy perspective.
An interesting site to visit is Google.com/ads/preferences. From here you are shown the type of ads you’ll be served up with on Google sites, based on the assumptions Google have made from the data they’ve collected about you.
This can be a little hit and miss. If you see the screenshot below, Google has correctly guessed I’m a 35-44 year old Male, and that I like Business & Industrial, Computers & Electronics and so on. But I’ve got zero interest in some of the other topics it suggests for me.
Google isn’t always so clever though. One young lady I know was listed as a 35-44 Male… Thankfully you can remove or edit these topics or information, or indeed, Opt-Out of these targeted advertisements altogether.
Be Aware of the value of your data
For the majority of people, they’re totally ignorant to the fact that companies like Google and Facebook are using our private information in this way. For others (myself included) I’m comfortable with this provided I know how the information is used.
It goes back to the saying – “If you don’t pay for a service, you are the product”.
As long as you’re aware of that and the implications, there’s no problem.