Today Google provided me with yet another reason to seek out an alternative service.
In the past, I've made long-winded rants in regards to my personal objection with what I search and what I say both online and offline being collected and used for the purpose of personalized advertising. Though most may see it as a harmless way for corporations to provide links to products and services that are suitable to the viewer, it is the implications of such a service that are genuinely frightening. More on this later.
My decline in respect for Google today is warranted in my opinion, as I wrongfully assumed that the tech giant would at least respect the boundary between two Google accounts, especially across separate devices. Specifically, a Google search happening on a cellphone under a personal Google account spawning advertisements on Twitter on a PC under both a different associated email and a different Chrome user.
Yesterday I had a conversation over text with a relative who's close friend had recently received his back-ordered Dodge Challenger Demon in "Plum Crazy." Since I hadn't seen the car in that color, I looked it up.
Fast-forward to today, and upon logging into all of my "Official Jerboa" accounts and scrolling through Twitter, I saw an ad for not only the same car, but in the same color. Coincidence? Certainly not.
Let's dive into what that means. Unless there is some massive coincidence here, Google is almost certainly selling my data. However, even if that were the case, the ad should only have ever displayed itself on an account or device that is associated with the information. Despite all of that, this still happened. If it isn't obvious enough at this point, Google has some ability to link accounts together and sees no issue with this linkage.
Many online personalities, including those much more prevalent than myself, prefer to keep their personal online presence, (as much of an oxymoron as that is...) and their aliases, or public online presence, separate. Given that is the case, and is both known and obvious that it is, why would Google do this? It's simple. Google, it's parent company Alphabet, and all advertisers they sell to, will NEVER lose a cent by doxxing you.
How did they do it? Google could have linked these accounts by IP, but there's an issue with that. At the time of making that search, I was far from home and thus not using the same service as my home PC. Furthermore, even if my arrival home resulted in Google outputting this data specifically on my home WiFi, that still doesn't solve the problem. See, my wife has her own devices on the same connection with which she makes her own searches, and I don't see advertising for the things she looks up. In fact, it would be vastly problematic if it sorted ads by external IP as shopping for very specific gifts would create ads for others who you may be shopping for. (i.e. engagement rings being advertised to partners following the purchase) I won't claim to know the methodology behind it, but they clearly can, and that's what we should worry about.
It's difficult to determine the exact implications of something like this without knowing how they store this data. Personally though, I would wager the data is being cataloged in some way or another, as recalculating this information for every usage would be unoptimized to say the least. Theoretically, this leaves a vulnerability for those who wish to stay somewhat anonymous while still utilizing Google's services. Though that isn't exactly news to people here on Minds, most folks are both unaware of this and lack documentation under Google that would explain this to be the case.
I won't drone on forever on the topic, but every single day is getting me closer to the want for total decentralization of my online presences; to a want for a universal internet bill of rights. Those things seem vastly beyond our reach sometimes.
Thanks for reading. Jerboa out.