How many of you remember the American fugitive— Edward Snowden?

Edward Snowden— the whistleblower, the big-hearted informant, and the CIA employee— he stepped forward to save the humanity from NSA and the State authority’s surveillance.

Overnight, Edward turned into a villain for the significant populace of America, and the same night, he was revered for his heroics by the other parts of the world.

But what was all the fuss about?

Was it worth risking his life?

The answers vary according to the ideological priorities; however, the primary question which we need to answer is— are we willing to be tracked?

Even if we don’t know the answer, we have agreed to get tracked long back.

When we agree to step into the internet— the epitome of the public domain— we already leave our traces or digital footmarks.

I still have a fresh memory of how I tracked the timestamp, activation duration, login time, IP address, etc. of my clients when I made a college project.

Let’s not talk about the intention of tracing the details.

However, for the ones who call digital tracing as a breach of privacy, let me burst your bubble— you have realized it too late.

We have been clinging with micro-habits for tracing client-side details from our schooldays, and if you realize it now— you are too weak a rationalist.

Dissecting Google Tracking

So, when it comes to tracing your digital habits— nothing beats Google with Facebook at the distant second.

Think of scenario… You go to Google. You put your search query. “How to treat Ac..” Now you wait for the search engine to reflect possible query strings. After a few seconds, you pour your frustration because it doesn’t show the probable search queries. You curse Sundar Pichai and Larry Page for poor service, and you switch to Bing or Safari.

That’s how Google works without stashing your data.

Had it stored all the search queries, it would have displayed “How to treat acne or acid attack, or anything which matches the search result.”

And it is why it says “We want to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Google has more than 200 services, and you leave your symbol on each one of them.

The higher number of Google products you use, the more familiar it gets with you and your personality.

Let’s look at further details of how Google traces Ron— a writer who uses some of the basic but useful products from Google to simplify his day to day life.

● Scene 1

It’s four in the morning when Ron wakes up abruptly— disrupting his Circadian rhythm. His subconscious mind asks him to check the score of Roger Federer for the ongoing ATP tour. He pulls his android phone out of the drawer, pushes the Google Chrome button, and searches “Roger Federer Score” on the Google Search. He reads the score and other insightful news regarding the same until he comes across the phrase— “Roger Federer and his indomitable attitude.” The word “indomitable” attracts his diction and he presses the voice search by calling— “Hey Google, what is the meaning of indomitable?” He later dozes off. He wakes up by 07:12 am and drapes himself with the tennis gears (he also loves to play tennis). He turns on the Google Fit application and runs to the nearest tennis club where he has got zealous friends who equally admire tennis. They play, and by the end of the session, he decides to capture the moment by snapping a selfie with his friends. He returns to his home and leaves for his office the following afternoon. His office has co-writers who have different sets of belief. Ron is an atheist by choice whereas other colleagues hail from different “elite of faith.” Being politically and religiously sound, Ron indulges into political debates with co-workers. He supports the libertarian code of belief as he smears Hillary and Trump simultaneously with unbiased purview. He throws rational statistics by searching “how blockchain or gold standard supersedes the existing monetary system devised by the authority.” He quotes the concept of Utopian World described by George Orwell in his book. He finally seals the day by searching “best variety of Pizzas” on his phone.

What Google Tracks

Throughout the day, Ron uses multiple Google services.

Google Chrome— The browser for surfing and adding queries.

What it means: It stores the browsing history and displays the advertisement cookies.

Google Search Engine— For searching the score, pizza, political statistics.

What it means: The search engine stores everything you search. It knows your political alignment; it holds the detail about your religious practice; it acknowledges your personal choices.

Google Fit— For keeping the count of steps, calories burned, and other fitness goals.

What it means: Google knows how healthy are you. If you don’t use the application and search a lot about your health issues— it again knows how secure is your body defense system.

Google Photos: For snapping and storing the picture.

What it means: There’s a concept of labeling in Google Photos. It uses the AI-based photo-recognition technology to separate you from your friends and fellow humans.

Google Voice command— For strengthening the diction

What it means: As AI and ML are the pillars of Google, it saves your voice command to differentiate from others. Again, it is crucial especially when Voice-based applications have chipped-in real world.

● Scene 2

Ron is excited about the new cafe near his home. As he loves waffles, he thinks he’d eat them all every day. He goes to the cafe, gulps one and gets one packed for his office. He reaches his office, unpacks the other one and munches like an epicure. He repeats the same for the next three months until he realizes that his life has turned monotonous. It’s been three months since he hasn’t taken any vacation as he works like a programmed robot— every day. He’s living a pendulum life between office and home. As he sits quietly in the corner of his office, a sudden jolt of idea thwacks his head. He immediately plans a trip out to the European Union and searches for the suitable package. He sets up his itinerary and books his flight, hotel, and other traveling sources. He ultimately goes to bed with a satisfied mind frame. The next week he packs his bag and flies to Switzerland— his dream destination— credits to the Swiss Maestro— Roger Federer. He checks the beautifully sprawled Swiss mountains, Chillon Castle, Lake Geneva, Swiss National Park, etc. He also gives a glance to Federer’s glass mansion in the city.

What Google Tracks

For months, Ron has relied on several Google services.

Google Location Tracker— For locating geographical points like home and offices.

What it means: Google fortes in tracking the location of any person. When you use Google devices like Pixel and the operating system such as Android, you leave your geographical mark through location service. Google can determine your home and office by saving your location according to the time. The place where you spend your maximum day-time is got to be your office. Similarly, Google knows your home because that’s where you will spend your night and weekend. Personal devices like Android phones reveal much more about your location than laptops or lesser carried devices like Google Home.

Also Read: How Chatbot Is Going To Change Travel Industry Strategies

Google place and preference tracker— For locating other places like the waffle cafe

What it means: Google is not restricted to measuring your home and office. It stores the places which you frequently visit. Based on your favorite cafe or theater, Google throws a coherent and catered advertisement.

Google Search Engine— For planning and booking the tour.

What it means: Google knows that you haven’t been to vacation in a long time. It also identifies your next trip. With Google Search Engine, you can let Google know about your dream destination.

Google location— For intercontinental reach.

What it means: Enough of your home, office, and cafes. Google also have information about your intercontinental traveling. Even before you start filling your travel diary, Google does it before you. It also knows where have you visited in other countries. The location service determines more information than you can imagine.

● Scene 3

Ron is waiting at the Zurich airport to return to his home, and he is about to seal his vacation. While he embraces the soft Dunlop of the sofa, he yanks out his phone, skims through his email and rolls his eyes through the contact list. He then composes a mail— “Hi, let’s catch tomorrow at the ‘meeting room 4’ by 10 am. The agenda of the meeting is to convert a few clients from the Swiss land. Thanks!”— and send it to his co-worker. He also sets up a reminder in the Google Calendar and places another group meeting by 2 pm on the Google Hangout. So, he is fresh and all geared-up to take professional challenges after the vacation. After setting up the quick meeting, he breathes out a sigh of relaxation and goes through the photo album. He labels and tags all the places on his phone until his flight departs from the location.

What Google Tracks

Amidst such a hectic tour, Ron still inputs his data on Google Services.

Gmail Contact List— For storing the list of all the connections

What it means: Gmail has been one of the oldest and most successful services of Google. It encapsulates all the information about the people with whom you interact. It also has details about your favorite person— the one with whom you communicate the most as they automatically segment down into the “frequently contacted” list. Gmail is more effective with Google devices like Android and Pixel. In such cases, the mailbox allows you to access the phone contact directly.

Google Calendar— For learning about the schedule, locating whereabouts, and reminding the meeting.

What it means: Google Calendar saves any information regarding your schedule. It hoards the data about the reminders, meetings, birthdays, anniversaries. Basically, whatever you want Google to remember for you. It uses the Google Location service to learn about your preferred meeting spots or particular birthday space.

Google Hangout— For being a connecting medium.

What it means: Akin to Gmail, Google Hangout knows who do you frequently contact. As it’s an active medium to connect, it reserves an enormous pile of conversation data which might include your whereabouts. There’s a belief that Google reads all the emails and chats. However, Google has committed not to read them and make wiser algorithms for targeting the specific audience.

Google Image Recognition and photo service— For tagging and recognizing all the places.

What it means: Although manual input helps Google to learn about a lot of places, Google image recognition algorithm is much more advanced than Google photo service. A lot of times Google suggests your face and name without explicit input. The basic working principle is— it maps the face and details with other applications like Picasa, Google plus, etc. and shows the result. With the way Google incorporates AI, it will surely recognize the background of the places you have visited without manual tagging.

● Scene 4

Ron is back to his usual and monotonously painted life. While working on his next project, he switches to Youtube to find a few things regarding the industry. Tempted by the movie trailer of “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood,” he binge-watches other Quentin Tarantino movies scenes and trailers and fritters away 45 minutes because YouTube shows a lot of interesting related videos. He somehow closes it and gets back to work. During the luncheon, he places his hand in his bag and pulls out the book— “The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.” He is on the verge of completing the book, so he searches for the next Ayn Rand masterpiece on his Google Book. He assesses the price on the application and cross-verifies on Google Shopping. He finally decides to keep the soft copy of the book on Google Book. He then continues to finish the book and goes on to look for the recipe which he’d prepare for himself tonight. By the end of the day; he is a writer, a movie critic, and a fantastic chef— courtesy to YouTube. Also, Ron’s mother has a smartphone, but she doesn’t know how to operate YouTube. He asks her about what she wants to see on YouTube. She pronounces “Yoga Exercises” in a lilting voice. He inputs the string for yoga and hands over her phone. Now, when Ron is not around her, his mother doesn’t have to rely on Ron because YouTube understands her taste, and it shows the related videos which she just has to click without entering the input query.

What Google Tracks

Again, nothing is as involved as Google products in Ron’s life.

YouTube— For binge watching trailers, recipes, technical info, yoga exercises.

What it means: Although YouTube had no association with Google, Google ultimately bought it. YouTube records your search history and shows related videos. It prevents you from entering the search query as YouTube furnishes quick results of your interest and likings. It understands the music-genre you prefer, the taste of the films you like, and the cuisines you love.

Google Book— For predicting favorite writer

What it means: Google Book keeps track of all the books you have read and searched. It learns about your favorite artists and reflects the result which might interest you the next time you scroll through the book list. Instead of using Google Book, if you conduct your research on the search engine, Google is still aware of the choices you have and the decisions you make. It also tracks the kind of ads you press. By unifying all the data, it caters you the custom-book list.

Google Shopping— For assessing and comparing the price of the book.

What it means: Google shopping piles all the data related to your shopping query. It recognizes what you are looking for, and which product almost enticed you to make a purchase (by the click). When you use Google Shopping through the browser, it also understands your hand-picked retail brands.

Google Image Recognition and photo service— For tagging and recognizing all the places.

What it means: Although manual input helps Google to learn about a lot of places, Google image recognition algorithm is much more advanced than Google photo service. A lot of times Google suggests your face and name without explicit input. The basic working principle is— it maps the face and details with other applications like Picasa, Google plus, etc. and shows the result. With the way Google incorporates AI, it will surely recognize the background of the places you have visited without manual tagging.

● Scene 5

After cooking a delicious recipe the following morning, Ron hits his office. He unfolds his laptop, opens his personal blog space on the Wordpress, unlocks the Google Analytics, and rolls his eyeballs for scrutinizing the web traffic and other minute details such as bounce rates, average time spent, etc. related to the recently posted blog. As he goes through the analytics, a pop-up query informs him about the ad he placed about his company on the influencer’s page. He examines the query search and realizes that the potential customer is just under his nose. So, he tries hard to convert him. He connects with him personally and arranges a meeting at 4 pm in his office. He demands the address which he later searches on Google Map, and advances on to executing the meeting. He drives back home using the same Map and takes a satisfying sleep.

What Google Tracks

Well, Google is indirectly a vital entity in Ron’s Life.

Google Analytics— For scrutinizing the traffic and other details regarding the blog

What it means: With Google Analytics, Google fearlessly announces that “Yes, We collect data, and here’s all the data related to your website.” The ones who talk about breaching the privacy use Google Data Analytics at real-time to enhance the business. It tracks all the minor details of your customers and grants you extraordinary power to heighten your business.

Google Adsense— For targeting the audience.

What it means: Although Google Adsense empowers the website owner or YouTube page holders to allow the ads on their pages, it also read the trail of the queries and promotes it to the user.

Google Maps— For searching for the location and relocating oneself.

What it means: Google Maps have been one of the most utilized applications from Google. Based on what you scribble on the search bar, Google determines where you are heading, and what’s your mode of transportation. It also keeps an eye on when and where you’ve visited. As Google owns Waze— the offline GPS navigation software— it also keeps you in sight.

Conclusion

Isn’t it a great paradox that with whatever you search on Google, Google searches you?

With higher search queries, Google creates a distinct picture of you— the image which could give Google clearer insight for improving its services.

However, there is a belief that when the internet happened to the world, the entire network was the distributed network.

But with the ever-expanding rate and interminable data entry, the tech-giants like Google and Facebook have centralized the network.

The way data get dealt— it has become one of the necessary resources which you, I and our kind produce.

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