Facebook knows way too much about all of us, but it’s not the only company hoarding everyone’s private data. Google knows just as much about us as Facebook (if not more), and that should trouble you, even if that data hasn’t been used as recklessly – at least, not that we know of.
When it comes to basic personal info, both companies are on pretty even footing. Assuming you feed them a normal amount of information, Facebook and Google both know your age, gender, where you live, your social circle, what you do for a living, and your general interests.
If you don’t like either platform knowing this information about you, there’s not much you can do about it. Even deleting your account won’t work. Facebook has admitted to creating “shadow profiles” for non-users, and according to The Wall Street Journal, Google likely does the same thing.
Google’s great data advantage: Android and Maps
If you use an Android phone, your entire history of calls and text messages is accessible by Google. It’s unclear if Google is personally storing all that data, though it does offer access to the information in some cases. As for Facebook, the company used its Messenger app to grab call and text history from Android users for years.
One area where Google easily beats Facebook is its location tracking. Thanks to the popularity of Google Maps, the company has a detailed account of pretty much every place you’ve even been, and can easily geo-target advertising your way. (You can check out your own Google Maps history here, or click on “Manage Location History” in the bottom right corner to switch it off.)
Google dominance in search and video (YouTube) also gives it more data to play with. (You can see your entire YouTube search history right here.) Both companies also have a pretty substantial record of any events you’ve attended in the past thanks to Google Calendar and Facebook Events.
Take a peek at big tech’s data dumps
At the end of the day, there’s a simple way to gauge which technology giant knows more about you. Facebook and Google both offer the option to download a file with (almost) everything they know about you, but Google’s is a lot bigger. When Al Jazeera compared them, Google’s file came in at 5.5GB (or “roughly three million Word documents”) while Facebook’s was just 600MB (“roughly 400,000 Word documents.”)
Clearly, Google still has a big lead on Facebook, especially when it comes to your location and search history. We just hope the search giant doesn’t have its own Cambridge Analytica scandal waiting in the wings.