Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How Much Does Google and Facebook Know About You

In April 2012, The UK Guardian ran a story entitled "How to Download Your Data From Google and Facebook" and offers the following step-by-step instructions into your digital life.

Google The Google user data which you're able to access through the site's transparency services are split across three places.

Dashboard: The dashboard is the principal place to get information on all your Google services – and includes data from Picasa, Gmail, YouTube, search histories and more. You can get to it at www.google.com/dashboard/ – expect to have to re-enter your password, even if logged in.

Account Activity: The dashboard has been going for three years now, but Google have added a new monthly monitoring feature with a few extra bits of information in the last month. Called Account Activity, it gives info on how much you've used different services, from which computers and browsers, and some extra bits of information. It's delivered to your inbox after signing up at the link.

Ad preferences: Google says its personalisation of display ads doesn't rely on your account data, but on your browsing history. This can be quite fun to view, especially Google's guess at your age and gender. You can view it here.


Facebook lets you download a history of the data you've put on the site. This is fairly limited in that it doesn't show many classes of information – wallposts on other people's profiles, others' photos of you, and more. That said, there is a lot contained in the two releases you can get.

You get the archive through Facebook account settings . Then find and click "Download a copy of your Facebook data". This includes lots of information that will be unsurprising – your photos, wall and notes – and maybe a few bits you wouldn't expect.

You can also request an "enhanced archive", which gives details of your logins and logouts, IP addresses, personal details, friend requests and (naturally) pokes.

So if you think you are relatively anonymous on the web, think again. Big Brother now lurks on your own Google and Facebook accounts -- and prospective employers aren't far behind.