Google powers internet search for just under two-thirds of U.S. adults. Google produces routers, installs fiber connections, and is working on driverless vehicles. Google’s Android is now the mobile operating system of choice for 86 percent of all smartphone users, and well over 50 percent of the U.S. smartphone market.
There aren’t many areas where Google isn’t involved. But search and data remains the primary income source, and long shall it remain. Google has unfettered power over our internet search. Privacy advocates believe Google simply has too much power and too much responsibility for a single corporation to handle.
Are those privacy concerns unfounded? Moreover, should we give in to Google for the best user experience? Let’s find out.
What Does Google Do With My Data?
Before we begin, let’s establish exactly what Google does with your data. There is uncertainty about how the search giant processes, anonymizes, and reuses your data. In fact, Google is pretty clear about what it does. Furthermore, they’re cooperative if you want to clear your data or assert more control over your privacy settings (more on this, later).
The TL;DR is this: Google encrypts and anonymizes your data, and uses it for a few of their core products. For instance, it helps streamline contextual search responses and autocompletes, or blends with other data sold to advertisers buying bulk data.
“Much of our business is based on showing ads, both on Google services and on websites and mobile apps that partner with us. Ads help keep our services free for everyone. We use data to show you these ads, but we do not sell personal information like your name, email address and payment information.”
Google is primarily an advertising company, and that is how your data is used.
Give In to Google
Without waxing completely lyrical, here are five reasons you should use — and only use — Google.
1. Unprecedented Search
When was the last time you said “Hey, Steve, just quickly Bing that for me?” That’s right. Never. Unless you were looking for a specific type of video, you’ve never said that. The same goes for other types of search, too.
You might use Wolfram Alpha if you have an interesting or scientific question. You might use Social Searcher to find specific trending links.
But you’ll keep coming back to Google for your day-to-day search, especially if you use Chrome as your primary browser.
2. Unrivaled Ecosystem
Your Google account is somewhat akin to an internet passport. You flash it on entry to a website and you’re in (though this comes with certain caveats). Similarly, if you use Chrome, when you sign into a freshly installed browser, your bookmarks, personal settings, and username/password combinations are instantly transported to your fingertips. (Though you should be wary of saving all your passwords in browser!)
The seamless experience continues throughout almost all Google products, from your desktop into your smartphone and/or tablet. There is only one company that can compete with the Google ecosystem. Its direct rival: Apple.
3. You Can Rely on Google
This ties into the Unrivalled Ecosystem section a little, but deserves its own section. Google is reliable. Their servers never go down (partly due to massive server redundancy).
In 2014, the Turkish government censored Twitter and other social media outlets. In response, Turks spray-painted Google Public DNS addresses (184.108.40.206, and 220.127.116.11) throughout cities as a way of circumventing the block. In short, their service is always online, always running, and always helpful.
4. Replace Microsoft Office
A core Google ideal is offering alternative services that can compete with established players. You’ve likely used Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides at some point. When combined with Google Drive, you have a full-featured document editing and sharing service that you can use, for free.
Many consider Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides a worthy, free replacement for Microsoft Office — but I’m not so sure.
5. Android Powers the World
Apple was once a smartphone pioneer. No doubt about it. But Android brought smartphone technology to the globe. The iOS vs. Android fanboy battles can (and will) continue. But there is no doubt that Android powers the world, just as Google powers search.
Google Keeps Your Data Safe
Those are just a few reasons. But there are more. Google parent company, Alphabet, has a vested interest in securing your data. And that means constant protection across the myriad Google services you use across the web.
There are an almost unfathomable number of trackers on the internet now. Most sites feature a hidden Facebook pixel, among others. Advertising and audience insight giants Quantcast process 30 petabytes daily. Your anonymized data passes under the eyes of thousands of advertisers everyday — anonymously.
Wondering how to approach data retention when processing 30 petabytes daily? Let us show you. https://t.co/lBvByJqlld
— Quantcast (@Quantcast) April 10, 2017
Of course, this data is accessible to anyone with the money to purchase it. And while advertisers are simply pushing a product, the data can be misappropriated (e.g. Cambridge Analytica using data for political targeting, or the Conservatives in the U.K. blurring the lines of targeting Facebook campaign advertising).
Furthermore, Google is transparent. Or rather, they’re the most transparent of the numerous multinational corporations that hoover up data. Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and their competitors do not come close to as much data transparency compared to Google.
Remember the Windows 10 release, back in 2015? The internet erupted in disgust at the integrated Microsoft telemetry. Yet two years later, we’re still not 100 percent sure on what kind of data Microsoft receives from Windows 10, despite their efforts at transparency. (Worried? Learn how to control your Windows 10 telemetry and other settings.)
Google Is Great
The amount of data Google has control over is astounding. But time and time again, they’ve illustrated their commitment to openness, as well as detailing exactly how our data improves their services for everyone.
Privacy advocates have serious concerns about Google. There are reasons you might want to stop using Google search and other services. But the truth of the matter is that Google makes life a little bit easier and gives us back what we need most: time. I’m sure that is worth handing over our anonymized data for.
Should we just give in to Google? Do Google services make your life that bit easier? Would you be loath to let it all go? Or should we be protecting our data in case Google turns rogue?
Image Credits: 4Max/Shutterstock