The more you know: What Google knows about you that you don't.

One of the most controversial and debated dilemmas to have sprung up from the dawn of the internet and indeed some of the most commonly asked questions here at Maven, all concern the topic of privacy.

  • Who knows what?
  • What information should be readily available to the public?
  • What should remain private?
  • Is the internet just a tool for Big Brother to wield from the sky?
  • Or is the internet a tool for the freedom of information?

As the years have progressed the ethical debate has quietened down but personal privacy has remained the hot topic. With personalised adverts and intelligent marketing, it can be a scary sight to see how specific the internet can be when targeting you to spend your well-earned cash.

Google collects a huge amount of data on every individual that uses its services - but exactly what and how much can remain a mystery to even the most regular web surfer.

There a few things you can do to discover exactly what you've read in the reams of small print we tend to agree to without ever taking notice of.

Using the starting address of 'www.google.com/' you can then add these suffixes to discover specific bits of information:

- history
- settings/ads
- locationhistory
- settings/security/permissions
- settings/dashboard

Not only can you see what Google is keeping on you but using these URL's you can alter the information they have.

For example, if you find the personalised advertisements helpful, you can add specific interests into the www.google.com/settings/ads link to tailor them even more and ensure that you never miss those Adele concert tickes again!

If privacy is a concern of yours, you're also able to disable, erase or minimise the information gathered on you by Google. This can involve turning location history off so that Google Maps cannot create a timeline of where you've been and when.
An interesting but marginally scary pastime to indulge in.

Whether the watchdog nature of Google (and many other companies) is a good thing or a bad thing is up to you to decide but there is no denying that in the pursuit of more sales and advertising money gathering user information is a trend that is going to continue to grow.