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Why I believe most people should stop complaining about Google storing their information


Recently a news article showed up in my Google Feed titled "Google still tracks your location even when you turn off Location History", and without hesitation I clicked on it. I like reading these articles for two main reasons.

1: I'll learn something new and stay up to date with the latest information in the tech world.

2: I LOVE reading the comments of "Google tracks people" posts.

People always seem to get upset when they find out that Google is trying to store their information, even if they don't really agree to it. And of course, I understand that people might like to keep their information to themselves and not some big corporation. But at some point I think these people should stop for a minute, think about what they're saying, and perhaps evaluate if they should be complaining SO much about a company who's services they use SO much.

Google does a LOT of things for free

Over the years Google has released and deprecated a lot of software and services. You can watch practically infinite free video's on Youtube, send all your friends and family free emails using Gmail or Inbox, take notes in Google Keep, write infinite documents in Google Docs, design infinite presentations in Google Slides and the list goes on. Besides Youtube Red, extra storage space on Google Drive or Google Play Music (Soon(ish) to be Youtube Music) you don't have to pay for ANY of it.

A lot of people, myself included, have attached themselves very heavily to the Google ecosystem. And for good reasons too. They make lots of services that most of the time work really well, often work great with other Google services (And even non Google services. Looking at you Apple, Forcing Apple Maps and iTunes on Apple Watches isn't cool!) and most of them are entirely free! No purchase cost, premium plans or monthly payments to be seen.

Yes, some decisions they make are rather odd (Removing perfectly fine features from Inbox?), sometimes their services really don't work together very well (Selecting stuff from Google Drive/Docs in Inbox is really odd) and they release and destroy entire apps like it's nothing (We don't need this many messaging apps). But they're giving it to you for free.

Why you not paying them doesn't mean they don't make money

Even though you're not paying Google for the services you use, they still make money, a lot of it actually. The reason for this is because they're basically an advertisement company. The data they gather from all the people that use their services is used to serve appropriate advertisements to those users.

So if you don't like that they collect your data, consider moving to a paid service that doesn't collect (as much) data

Why targeted advertising is good

Everyone hates advertisements. You'd rather not see them if you have the option. But if you HAVE to see them, what would you rather see, random advertisements that really don't make any sense, or advertisements that are tailored to you, based on your interests and current activities? I pick the latter, and I think many people would.

What did they do wrong?

In all the years that I have been using Google services, there hasn't been an issue with the data that they gathered from me that hurt me in any way. My data hasn't been leaked, my account hasn't been deleted, my location history has never been made public and they never did anything the didn't tell me about.

If Google had a bad reputation of hacked and leaked databases, I would agree with most of these people, but Google doesn't have this reputation. It handles your data very carefully because they know very well that if something goes wrong with all the data they gather, people will stop using their services and that means their advertisement business will drop significantly.


People use Google services like it's the most normal thing in the world, and expect to be able to use them without paying anything. When they find out Google collects some data in order to show you advertisements that are relevant to you they freak out and think they're being spied on. The truth is, Google has a good reputation in handling data, and the data they collect allows them to keep all their free services that we are all so heavily invested operational so we can all keep watching cat video's on the internet.

So the next time you start complaining about Google, please stop and think about you deserve to complain about it.

Some off topic stuff

Hey there everyone, this is my first ever article on, and I really enjoyed writing it. I'd love to get better at writing articles, so if you have any useful feedback don't feel afraid to leave it in the comments. Thanks! I hope you enjoyed reading it :)

Top comments (13)

jhotterbeekx profile image
John Hotterbeekx

I think the key problem with the tracking is awareness and understanding. Yes, for us in the tech industry this all is logical and we can generally tell if a service will track you or not. For people outside the industry it isn't. Next to that, I think tracking is a really hard concept to grasp for a lot of people.

People see google, see gmail, see Facebook, everybody uses and it all seems free. There are some ads when Googling but that is it. Do you think most people actually spend time thinking about how they make their money? I don't think so. Until everything gets in the news, people are being told that their data is being stored, leaked, tracked and everything. That's when people start complaining.

What could we have done about this? Beats me. If services like Google added a message asking 'We need you data to make a living, can we track you?', would they still have been this big? Probably not. If Facebook asked you to agree to 'We will store and sell the information that you give is', would Facebook be this big? Probably not. Would the user be complaining about tracking? No, but probably about something else like the number of ads, the price of subscriptions or the lack of free services.

lukewaffel profile image

I actually haven't spent much time thinking about the subject from those people's points of view, perhaps because my parents (who definitely aren't tech savvy) just say "I don't care if they track me, I'm using their stuff for free".

I'm also not sure about what could be done to avoid the confusion people have, I understand that they're making it as hard as possible to disable all the tracking because they want to make money, but it definitely causes some issues with users.

jhotterbeekx profile image
John Hotterbeekx

I think currently nobody knows what can be done to avoid the confusion, without dropping to much functionality or losing a lot of income. Although I expect there will be a shift in this area in the coming months / years. I expect companies to become more transparent about this and users given more choices as how to use the services. But only time will tell if I'm right on that one.

martingbrown profile image
Martin G. Brown • Edited

Google made lots of people use their products by abusing their monopoly and ensuring the alternatives are very limited. The EU has five Antitrust/Cartel cases involving Google.

The issue with the Location data, is not that they are storing it. The issue is that they are still storing it after people think they have opted out. This is done via a set of options that are confusing to me as a chap with 20+ years programming experience. What chance does a layman have of working it out?

Location data is particularly sensitive. It can be used for spying, squashing political decent, black-mail, stalking and lots of other bad things.

Google hasn't been hacked yet, or have they? But it's like the Nuclear thing, it is very safe for decades until that one time when it isn't. Given the scale of Google's operation, if they do get breached it is going to be very bad.

For this information to be used in bad ways, Google don't even have to be hacked. A bad government could simply change the law and require it to be handed over, credit reference agencies or insurance companies could simply buy it. "I'm sorry sir, we are going to double your car insurance this year because Google say you drive through a dodgy area."

Google don't even need to give this information to anyone else for it to be used in a bad way. I don't think they were involved in the whole issue of targeting people that visited hospital ER departments, but they certainly have that ability. All the while Google are profitable they are going to tow a more moral path, but if they start having years of low profits the ability to resist temptation changes.

Lastly I expect Google could still make enough money to cover their operations by selling un-targeted ads. TV companies have been doing that for a long time.

lukewaffel profile image

I live in the EU, and I definitely don't agree with the EU and all their fines. The whole Google Shopping results hurt other companies is super far stretched in my opinion. They made Google Search, so I believe they have all the rights to show their Google Shopping service first. It really wasn't as bad as they made it look.

Also, all the changes in the cookie laws and all that stuff are only annoying in my opinion. Every site I go to now has like 3 popups about cookies and new data protection laws. I get that they make these laws to "protect the citizens of the EU", but I'd rather not have them.

Also, I'm not entirely sure they could make enough money selling targeted ads, because I think the only reason people use Google AdWords is because it's targeted so well.

pavonz profile image
Andrea Pavoni

But if you HAVE to see them, what would you rather see, random advertisements that really don't make any sense, or advertisements that are tailored to you, based on your interests and current activities?

I'd prefer the former, for a very simple reason: sometimes it's a lot better to get exposed to something different, even weird than something you already know and (maybe) appreciate. Your brain will benefit from this, having to train itself to understand/process/elaborate something new.

What if in your life you only get things you know, or what someone else has decided to show to you? This is what usually happens with parents, but parents, usually, do this for your best (at least in the intent), not for their profit or interest.

Google is not your parent (or cousin, or "big brother" ;-P), it offers its services without asking money because they make money with your data. So it's not that free, after all. They show you search result and ads based on what makes them more comfortable, not for you, that's sure.

Censoring words, concepts, or aven getting exposed only to things you know/appreciate is very dangerous on many cognitive levels.

My 2 cents

hoelzro profile image
Rob Hoelz

My issue with Google is that even if you actively try to avoid them - you use an alternative mail provider, you use DuckDuckGo for searches, etc - you still probably haven't fully opt-ed out. So many pages on the Internet these days have tracking scripts that phone home to Google, and allow them to build a profile on various users, and working around this is hard enough for a technical user, let alone a layperson. Going along with what John said, that's fine if people know what they're giving up in exchange for these services, but it's not exactly transparent.

isaacleimgruber profile image

The issue is there is a strong misunderstanding about how profiling works and how data can remain anonymised while doing profiling. However what happens when we can reverse engineer pseudo-anonymised data?

aodev profile image

History has shown that Hell's Gate may open any next morning. You might become persona non grata because of your perfectly fine actions and words of the past that are suddenly deemed illegal and subject to legal action.

I think, "The handmaid's tale" illustrates that perfectly.
But if you want a real story, read about the kulaks (not gulag) in the soviet union.

I tend to think, but I can be wrong, that you can write what you just did because you feel that your data can not be used against you. But in the end it's gambling.

lukewaffel profile image

You might be right about that last part, interesting to think about :)

Though I find that if we think that "It might be good now, but what if something bad happens tomorrow", we can't say or do anything. Neither online nor offline, because perhaps right now I can tell all my deepest and darkest secrets to my mother because she is the most caring person in the world, but perhaps tomorrow she'll be a Russian spy and slice my throat.

That said, if Google does ever get hacked, it'll be real bad for sure.

stefansudo profile image

Excellent article, I agree on all you said, and my opinion is Google made the people smarter,gave with wide hands access to information and 100% made the web we have today, of course we all helped too, and an amazing open source community rize, amazing free stuff, services and finally a Free web for all as we imagined. The problem always on information security it's not the companies and special the companies in size of Google, the problem always was and will be the users and what they share, and how they do it. Google (and other companies) gave us tools to handle our security (see double authentication and Google authentication in my opinion the Best tool ever made) if we do not care about our security who will? Companies are companies, they want profit,but now one has ever contribute like Google, and finally? If you don't want to use their services, you are free to decide, there's always alternatives. Web, it's another world,no one's said that's the perfect world, but the people should be aware of what they are saying,what they are doing about their security like they're doing in the reall world. You can always install the latest alrms and security systems but the thief some time will by pass, same goes for the web, but this time you are able to handle all the information you store, thanks!

tux0r profile image

You'd rather not see them if you have the option. But if you HAVE to see them

The thing is: we don't.

okolbay profile image
andrew • Edited

Google does a LOT of things for free

they dont do sh*t for free
youtube and gmail and anything is swarming with ads, sold as targeted ads, because they claim to have data on you, makes their profits even higher, as long as merchants are willing to pay for targeted ads. using this money google develops services, that are targeted to become platforms for product companies (think AMPs), dragging world not only in “ads bubble” but also “tech progress bubble”, where a feature would appear if and when google considers it. this is horrible and you are ok with it.

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