Google Dashboard Exposes How Google Controls Your Online Life

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Sorry about the long title but I just couldn’t think of a better way of expressing my amazement at how much Google knows about my online life/activities. Well, at least for all the things that I do while I’m log in to my Google Account.  Google Dashboard – we were just asking about this yesterday and here comes Google  officially announcing it. My reaction upon checking – I was surprised and scared at the same time.In their own words, here’s what the Google Dashboard is all about:

Dashboard summarizes data for each product that you use (when signed in to your account) and provides you direct links to control your personal settings.

Currently, it covers more than 20 Google products and services right now, such as Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Web History, Orkut, YouTube, Picasa, Talk, Reader, Alerts, Latitude, Profile, Web History and more. From those services, the only one that I don’t use too much is Latitude.  I used most if not all of them on a daily basis.

Doesn’t it scare you a bit to know that Google knows how many emails you have in your inbox, how many feeds you are reading on Google Reader and more? Well, yeah of course we all know that Google keeps track of these online information and we really don’t mind it at all. But seeing it in on an online dashboard makes it a bit scary.

The good news is – you can edit the information. Delete those that you don’t want Google to keep track off. In fact you can practically erase everything and start all over again. But I don’t see the point in doing that. For as long as you haven’t encountered any privacy issues yet, those information are pretty harmless, in my opinion.

You know what the clincher is? – With all these personal data and information about us, Google can practically control our online lives.

Arnold Zafra
Arnold Zafra writes daily on the announcements by Google,, Yahoo & MSN along with how these announcements effect web publishers. He is currently building... Read Full Bio
Arnold Zafra
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  • Jim Gaudet

    I am not scared that Google has the info, I know they do. I am happy however, they give you a dashboard to control it.

    That is smart on their part, as usual.

  • Ahmad Barirani

    I guess it is nice of them. After all, they do have data on me because I use their services. I think Google is doing a good job at being ‘open enterprise’ despite it’s size and growth rate.

  • Maggie

    I think what’s scary about the information is that, while there are privacy laws preventing Google from using the information maliciously, the information is out there and – potentially – could be accessed by the wrong person. It may sound a bit ‘conspiracy’ theory, but I think it is something to think about.That information makes them very powerful.

  • Alan Bleiweiss

    @Maggie brings up a good point. Sure, many people gain value by using Google’s plethora of services. Good on Google. Yet it also means the potential exists for massive exposure to prying eyes. Maybe some of that data leaks into the public SERPs. Like the recently exposed fact that some Google Voice messages ended up in public results pages, or how it was recently clarified that if you provide a link on your web site to one of your Google Docs files, that file can end up in the SERPs as well.

    How many people actually knew they had to manually set your Google Voice mail to opt OUT of being exposed? How many business owners who are barely able to use a computer, aware that if they otherwise innocently link to a Google Doc file to share with their clients, that it exposes the file to the entire web?

    The problem is that the vast majority of web users are barely computer literate. (Which explains why Internet Explorer is the leading browser of course.)

    And in addition to making Google massively powerful, all that data in the Google cloud means one point of vulnerability instead of several. So the exposure risk climbs exponentially.

    I’m very happy to see the new Google Dashboard and it’s ability to wipe out some of that data. Personally I’ll be checking it regularly. But it will NOT motivate me to ever use Google Docs, or heaven forbid, Google Wave, let alone 80% of the other offerings they have.

  • Kim.D

    It is slightly frightening to think about all of the data in the Google cloud and the possibility of it getting into the wrong hands. I’m not sure how much “control” we are gaining of our information through the Google dashboard but knowing what information is there offers a piece of mind.

  • andreas.wpv

    Google provides this info back to us. What other company does this? I think it is an excellent and very user friendly move. They give me detailed insight into the information they collect and even access to change some of that.

    Security concerns? The opposite, the data has been there the whole time, it just might help me find out where a leak has been, in case of problems. I wish other companies like facebook, linkedin, twitter would offer me the same.

  • Alysson

    It isn’t as if we all didn’t know that Google had this information in the first place. For them to so shamelessly and without reservation provide us with a one-stop shop where we can see some of this information is proof of only one thing: Google compiles an endless amount of data on their users and what they’re willing to admit to and share with us is merely a drop in the bucket.

    There’s a lot that Google knows about us and they’re willing to let us know just SOME of the data they compile. What is in the dashboard isn’t scary. It’s what they know that they don’t advertise knowing that we should all be truly afraid of.

  • arnold

    @Jim and Ahmad – good that you both like the feature, I like it too but with some reservations. And that was pointed out by Maggie – Google being so powerful with all those data about users.

    hey @Allan, I still have a couple of Wave invites, don’t you want one? 🙂

    @Kim – yes, seeing all those data in the Dashboard for the first gives some sort of peace of mind, but the scare creeps in later when you start thinking, what the? Google knows so much about me?

    @andreas – I agree, other social sites that collect information about us should follow Google Dashboard.

    @Alyson – I wonder what those things are. Now, I’m scared even more.

    • Alysson

      You probably don’t really want to know. And you never will. Wondering will just drive you insane. 😉

  • Alan Bleiweiss

    Arnold, how about you swap those wave invites to someone who can give me a Google Voice invite? I won’t be using it for actual phone calls, just to claim that it’s my personal number and then I can deduct more of my cell phone charges on taxes…

    • Alysson

      Oh, Alan…you’re always thinkin’! 🙂

  • CAP Digisoft

    I have checked my account dashboard. It’s really interesting one.