Source: Medium Article
‘Hey Google’, wake me up tomorrow at 6.
‘Hey Google’, how is the weather today?
‘Hey Google’, call Mom.
From waking up to going to sleep, and everything in between, Google is the constant companion I have. It handles all of my boring tasks such as maintaining a to-do list, setting alarms, scheduling for me, and much more. And I am sure it does for you too.
But at what cost? What am I giving up to receive such an invaluable service for FREE?
I know it is my data, but what exactly? And what does exactly google do with it? And how can I be safe?
If you are not paying for the product, you are the product
- Andrew Lewis
Here’s What You Are Giving Away
You may not realize it, but your day-to-day decisions are made or at least influenced by Google.
Now some of you might think privacy and data is not a big deal. ‘Why would Google care what I do today?’, ‘I don’t care if Google knows when I wake up.’
I used to think the same.
This is where we are all WRONG. After watching Social Delima on Netflix, I was shocked, I mean they cannot be controlling me; I know what I am doing.
I wake up when google wakes me up; then, I check my Gmail, weather, schedule, order coffee, fitness, news, music, check the route to work, everything in one way or the other, through Google.
Now I do most of these things without thinking much about it, it all seems to take care of itself. They make it effortless, and that’s the key.
They know what videos I like, what all I have purchased, which cards do I use, where do I go, what do I search, what things I like, whom do I call the most, what I am going to do next, and on and on and on….. Being Good at Google is a Skill | Data Driven Investor Being good at 'Google" is a skill. Yes, you heard me. Knowing what and how to Google or search for something is an…datadriveninvestor.com
This doesn't end here.
While I am using their service, the app is calculating- how fast I am moving my cursor; what am I going to click next; how much time I spent on which screen, and time between the clicks; what product would entice me for advertisement; what am I thinking right now? Etc, etc, etc, every bit of data they can get their hands on.
You might still say ‘so what? it’s making my life easier, isn't it?’
Yes, it makes our lives easier, and I am not against using the service, I use it every day, even now.
I just ask you to pay attention, to think twice, to ask yourself ‘do I really want to watch, play, read, or buy that thing’ before you click on that button. You may not want to, but because the algorithm is suggesting it, you’ll do.
Remember, the job of the algorithm is to keep you on the platform; to get more clicks, views, and data. Your job is to know what is best for you.
Be more self-conscious.
When you are using Google or any of the services, data is just a piece of it. What you are really giving them is your invaluable time, attention, and some amount of control that you can never get back.
Internet is a giant social experiment where we are all guinea pigs, and self-reflection is the escape
What Does Google Do With Your Data?
Google uses your data to attract advertisers. Your data allows Google to show relevant ads to you- ads that you are most likely to click. But there is more to it.
Now no one in their right mind will click on all the ads that Google shows, in fact, we ignore most of the ads.
While watching a YouTube video, if some ad comes up, I just put my phone upside down and go to grab some ice cream from the fridge, by the time I am back the ad is gone. If I am searching on google, I ignore the top 3 searches; if I am reading some article, the left and right panes are almost invisible to me.
Google knows that. Therefore, they show you the same ad multiple times. The goal is not just to get a click; if you click it great, if not, they want to embed the thing in your mind.
Suppose I am getting an ad for an Udemy course, now I won’t click it the first time, it will show me again, and again, and again. Now it is embedded in my mind that when I want to learn something new, there is only one option: Udemy. When the next time the ad comes, I will click it.
The data Google collects from us is utilized to improve their services: it makes maps, search, photos, assistant, recommendation systems, and their algorithm better.
You might think you are receiving all these services for free, but you are not. Google home uses google assistant, search maps, and other services, that we all have trained for years. Now we pay for these services in the form of Google phones, Google Home, and Google Nest.
Google also sells these services to other companies, you can buy Maps API to use in your own app or game. All the data they have collected is being used to create a better AI, which they sell to other companies, the military, and governments. Apple VPN Is the Next Big Thing Forget smartphones and notebooks, privacy is the new playing fieldmedium.com
It’s not all dark, there is also a silver lining. Google has enabled us to do things we never imagined before and you know how it has changed your life.
It has made the life of disabled people much easier and happier. Google Euphoria aims to help people with speech impairments, communicate more efficiently. Live relay, another project by Google, is aimed at helping people with hearing problems. Project Diva is for people who cannot trigger Google assistant with their voice.
How You Can Save Yourself
The thing is, Google was not designed to be evil. It was no one's intention to make the internet harmful, socially divide us, or control us.
It has become all these things because this is the only business model that can sustain all these companies such as Google, Facebook, or Snapchat; They make money through advertisements, and collecting your data to show relevant ads is the only way to provide the best service and maximize profits.
Google is also trying to improve your digital wellbeing. They released their digital well-being program for Android. So you use your phone only when needed.
These initiatives are great, and I am glad at least a few companies are doing it, but it is not enough.
Every day, we are bombarded with information through all of our senses, and at this point, we cannot escape it. It is not about Google or Facebook or any company. Anyone with an internet connection can create content to influence you.
Make your own choices, Don’t let any algorithm control you.
We can only do one thing, be more aware. Aware of our likes, dislikes, preferences, thoughts, viewpoints, mindset, knowledge sources, and our surroundings.
It does not affect most of us when Google, Facebook, or any of these companies have our data. It affects all of us when we cannot decide and make choices for ourselves, and it is the algorithm that does it for us.
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