Complete 8 page APA formatted essay: Google is always trying to push the envelope when it comes to gathering information about you and me.
Advertisers are willing to pay lots of money for the guarantee that their advertisements will magically appear on the screens of the people that are most likely to buy their products, or at the very least, people that meet a certain profile of consumer that the sellers want to attract to their products. All of this sounds fine until questions about how Google collects and uses data are raised. How did the employees of Google know that I was shopping for shoes? The trade-off for the handiness of Google search lies in the fact that every time you search, you reveal a little bit about yourself. Likes, dislikes and hobbies are all recorded. The amount of e-mail you receive, generate and key words within all of those e-mails is also gathered and stored. The concern many are beginning to have about the way Google gathers, stores and shares information centers on the opportunities and threats this activity hold for our society as a whole, not to mention the damage it can cause to individuals. One positive aspect of Google’s information gathering activities is their apparent commitment to be transparent about their activities. Google has recently published a manual that educates and guides users understanding how information is gathered about them and how it is used. This guide is written in simple language and is intended for non-technical users (Blue, 2011). The guide titled, “Good to Know” is written for a global audience but is specifically targeted to address changes in legislation in the United Kingdom concerning how user information can be gathered, shared and used. The guide is broken into four sections, Stay Safe Online, Your Data on the Web, Your Data on Google and Manage Your Data. Step by step instructions are offered for interested persons on how to find out what type of a person Google thinks you are and how to opt out of the automated generation of Google Ads. It has been noted that this move puts Google far ahead of other tech companies when it comes to revealing how they gather and use consumer data. Apple and Facebook, most conspicuously, do not have any obvious safeguards in place for consumers (Thinesen, 2011). Neither company has a Chief Privacy Officer and Google does. Everyone gathering and using data has been stung with security concerns, but Apple and Facebook have had some of the most visible blunders. Compounding the mistrust of these companies has been the initial denials followed by admissions that data was gathered and applied in some seemingly covert manner. For Apple, the most revealing was the denial then admission that GPS software could track the movements of all iPhone users and for Facebook the denial then admission of tracking user movements through the used of the “Like” button even if not logged on to Facebook. Google’s willingness to have transparent methods of gathering and using information from users is good for society. It can help consumers feel that they are still in control of their own person and habits. It is good that they give users the ability to opt out of some forms of data transmission and gathering. Transparency makes all the difference because consumers are making informed choices about how they search using Google. It builds trust between society as a whole and this very important company that provides a vast quantity of the information available to people every day. While trust can eventually lead to dangerous complacency, Google best serves individuals and society