Google Account activity: Google Showing You How Much They Know From You?

Google Account activity: Google Showing You How Much They Know From You?

29th March 2012

One of the major subjects these days is privacy. With everything being tied together, behavioral targeting being at its peak and Google and Facebook playing with their policies, many are focussed on whether or not our privacy is secured.

Google plays on this by using what they know into their benefits, making us feel we are secure. One of these measurements for example was SSL Search, which is terrible for marketers, but really works for the ‘feeling of security’ people have, even though it hasn’t helped their security for one bit.

Yesterday Google announced a new ‘feature’ which can be seen in the light of ‘showing they are open’. Google now gives you “Google Account activity”: an extra option where you can see what you have done, and what Google stores from that.

If you sign up, Google will send you a monthly e-mail with a link to your personal ‘password-protected‘ (notice the extra security mention with the password mention) report which will show you how you’ve used Google Services. During the month Google will collect your data and will then summarize what you did that month in the report. All for you to see.

Things you get to see are for example are where you’ve signed in, who you e-mailed the most, how many e-mails you’ve sent and received, your search history and how your videos are doing. It all depends on what your activity is. Take a look at the first report I got:

To be honest, it doesn’t give me that much information.

Didn’t we have something like this already?

So we are getting information from Google about what we do. Great. But wait, didn’t we already have something like that? Indeed we do, the Google Dashboard. If you go there you will also get information from Google about your behavior, and that seems to go a bit further, there for example you can see which calendars, which Android devices and which other tools you use.

Google Dashboard gives you the full overview of all your products. It seems as if Google Account activity simply gives you the changes you have been making in the past month, kind of a reminder.

Do we like it?

So, do we like what Google is doing here? Well first of all: it is a good thing from Google to be more open about the data they store. In my personal view it is not that bad that they store the data, because in the end it will benefit you because you will get more accurate information back. But the biggest problem always was that people just didn’t know, which would then scare the **** out of them if they would find out.

By doing it this way Google helps us get some insights into what we do, which will make us think twice about some of the stuff we do online. And that is a good thing, it is sort of an education.

Google itself puts it like this:

“Knowing more about your own account activity also can help you take steps to protect your Google Account.”

There is another site to it. Because off course this is only part of what Google stores from us. So the question arises what the idea behind this ‘openness’ is. Is it truly to give us insights or is it mainly to give us the ‘safe’ feeling that we think we know what Google is up to? Google was smart enough to make this an opt-in, which again is another security thought, they are very careful not to get ‘caught’ on the privacy front these days. That is smart and will give people the right ‘feeling’ with the fact that Google is storing your information. For now lets give Google the benefit of the doubt…


Written By
Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.