You'd be hard-pressed to find a company more beloved than Google. And why not? They make the Internet easier to use, pamper their employees and foot the bill for YouTube even though it loses money like it's got a gambling problem that's made of cocaine. Unfortunately, much of what is awesome about Google also makes them increasingly terrifying with each passing day.
5Google Has All The Answers (About You)
Before Google, if you were curious about some weird sexual position or the dangers of sticking glass rods down your pee hole, you had to go to an older sibling or classmate. This would result in either hilarious but ultimately fulfilling sexual misadventure or, if you didn't go to high school in a teen comedy, a mortifying nickname that followed you all the way to college.
Google wasn't the first search engine to take the human interaction out of that process, it was just the best at finding the information you were looking for. And as long as you were sure to delete your search history afterwards, you could read up on any kind of fucked up, degenerate behavior you wanted without another human soul ever knowing.
It turns out, Google records everything you enter into its search engine. The lonely night a few months back when you Googled "how many fists can fit in the butt?" That's stored on Google's servers, correlated with your IP address and a pretty shocking amount of other personal information.
We never knew how far this would go.
But they're not just passively stalking you via your weird ass searches. If you use Google to help you navigate the Web, there's a good chance they've installed a cookie onto your browser that logs every page you visit, every form you fill out and every conversation you have. Google sees it all and stores it for at least nine months.
Consumer advocate group Privacy International says nine months is the best case scenario. Even if you only use a few of Google's free services, "the company retains a large quantity of information about that user, often for an unstated or indefinite length of time, without clear limitation on subsequent use."
Of course, Google is in the business of getting you what you're looking for, and knowing everything about you makes it better at its job. When you type rimjob into your search window, Yahoo! might return a LeBron James highlight reel, but Google knows better. Google's many products work better the more it knows about you.
Plus, it's not like any actual people will ever read all of the dirt they have stored on you. Well, not until they have a reason to ask for it anyways.
In 2009, Google's CEO Eric Schmidt warned users,
"If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place. "
So maybe it's time to stop treating Google like a smarter, more trustworthy older sibling who has all the answers and more like a friend you trusted until you found the notebook where they track all of your bowel movements. No matter how much good advice they offer you, and how many times they claim the drawer full of hair they collected from your shower drain is "just in case," you'll never feel totally comfortable around them again.