We use data to make Google products like Search and Maps as useful as possible. We also use data to serve more relevant ads. While these ads help fund our services and make them free for everyone, it’s important to clarify that our users’ personal information is simply not for sale.
On Google’s privacy principles page, they make the bold and reassuring claim that they never sell your personal information. Except that’s not entirely true.
Their language is precise. They’re not going to take the massive amounts of data that they’ve scrapped about you from across the Internet and the data that you’ve given them, put it in a spreadsheet, and put it up for auction. They’ve got a better plan.
They take all of that information, build out your profile, and then leverage that profile to sell to advertisers and “partner websites.” Hard to find out just who those partners are, by the way.
The truth is, your personal information is for sale, just not in a spreadsheet. Google, Facebook & Instagram, Twitter, and every other company that runs a “free” service is in the business of selling your profile, which inherently includes your personal information. These guys stalk you across the Internet and in ways that are far from transparent. You’d have to inspect every website’s source code or install an ad blocker to show you just how many trackers are on every website.
They’re creeps. But we let them do it.
How can we make it stop? Stop using their products. Close your accounts. Use macOS Mojave and iOS 11+ and enable every privacy setting in Safari. Advertisers hate the technology, so consumers should love it.
Here’s the real pain point. If you value your privacy and want these losers to stop, you’re going to have to start paying for services. Email, RSS readers, blogs, apps, software. There’s a cost to privacy, it’s slight, but its enough to keep most people happily forking over their personal information so that they can have free stuff. Not me, not anymore.