Is Google Listening In?

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Photo courtesy @brett_jordan

Scarlet Lindsey | Civil Patriot

These are strange times we live in and conspiracy theories run amuck. This is one reason I haven’t worried too much about my phone tracking me and/or listening to what I say. It sounds like something from a theorists’ playbook. 

But there’s a reason so many people are worried about such things. There’s enough truth to this story to cause genuine concern (and you don’t even need a tin-foil hat to believe it). 

My worries about Big Tech date back to a real-life drama that I walked a friend through. She was going through a divorce and her (soon-to-be ex) husband seemed to know everything about what she was up to. He even (somehow) knew the day she went to the attorney’s office and he showed up there to scare her. We finally figured out that he was doing it all through their joint phone account. He had placed a tracking app on her phone. 

This happened four years ago, so technology has grown a lot since then. These days families deliberately sign on to apps like Life 360 so that parents can keep track of where their kids are. It’s also helpful when you’re traveling, in case you get separated. 

But anything beyond that. . .and it just gets creepy. 

It’s weird enough to know that our loved ones can peer behind the curtain, but it’s even more alarming to realize that tech companies like Google can (and do) store our data—where we’ve been, what we’ve said, and so on. 

So, how much do these companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook know about us? Are they always listening when you’re on your device? 

If you use the words, “Hey, Siri” or “OK, Google” you might not realize that your phone is listening for keywords from you but it’s not recording everything you say, nor is it uploading to Google. However, Google does record your voice commands to your phone. If you, for instance, ask Google a question, that question is retained, along with a few seconds of lead-in audio. 

It’s possible to listen to your Google recordings. This can be done through your Settings app but it’s easier to do on the web.  

  1. Go to the Google my Activity page. You’ll be shocked at how many things Google has been tracking—everything from the YouTube videos you’ve watched to the apps you’ve opened on your phone. 
  2. Scroll down to Voice and Audio and filter by date, then apply. 
  3. You will then have access to a timeline of all the recordings Google has of your voice activity, (from present backwards). You can view the recordings. 
  4. To stop Google from listening, turn off “OK Google” detection under Settings/Google/Services/Account Services. 
  5. Turn off “OK Google” in Google maps and android auto. 
  6. Check (and disable) your phones location services. 

Of course, Google is also tracking you in other ways, though you might not realize just how much. They keep your search history. . .forever. 

You read that right. 

They know every single search you’ve ever done on Google. (Is this making you want to switch to a different search engine like DuckDuckGo? I did!) 

Google is attempting to get data so that you can be targeted with ads. That’s the long and short of it. You are officially their target audience. Literally.  Google is, in essence, a tracking company. 

They’re not really any different from my friend’s ex, now that I think about it. Only, Google’s a lot smarter. They have the capability to knowing far more about you than he ever could. 

Google knows every video you’ve watched, every site you’ve visited, every text you’ve sent, every gmail/email you’re sent or received, every contact you have, and even your schedule (through the calendar app). They know your penchant for certain products, where you hang out with others, and—as we’ve already discussed—those live recordings of your commands. 

Unless you tell them to stop, they will go on scouring the details of your life. They are looking for a complete profile of you, their product. Why? They use your personal profile to sell advertising. In short, they’re chasing you around the Internet, trying to change your behavior with targeted ads. 

Told you it was creepy. 

If the “They want to influence your behavior” part sounds familiar, it should. It’s a common theme among Big Tech companies these days. Don’t believe it? Ask any conservative who’s been banned from Twitter or Facebook for not espousing the current narratives, (whatever they might be at the moment).  

My friend’s ex wanted to influence her behavior, too. And he was willing to go to any means to do so. 

That’s what creepy people do. They don’t stop until they get what they want. 

So, you’re being exploited, whether you realize it or not. With the click of a button you’re giving these Big Tech companies full reign to acquire your personal/sensitive date and use it against you. 

Maybe you’re one of those, “I’ve got nothing to hide. Who cares?” types. Do you really want to get more and more manipulative ads? Do you want to be discriminated against? Do you want to be the victim of identity theft? These tracking devices have the potential to do great harm to you if you give them full access. 

It’s time to reduce your Google footprint. Clear that search history. Replace their products. Don’t allow them to become that creepy ex-boyfriend. 

Ditch him, once and for all. 

 

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