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Google Personal: An invasion of privacy or the latest thing in search?

Google Personal: An invasion of privacy or the latest thing in search?By Stephen Hudson - Digital Marketing Consultant.  

How much do you think Google already knows about you? A lot, a little? Well, the amount might surprise you, but, like a greedy child at Christmas, the search giant isn't happy with what it already has, it wants more, and has launched a new search feature to try and obtain this data.

Google Personal has begun rolling out, and aims to collect personal data which it hopes will provide greater insights into our daily lives. Personal takes the form of a “Personal Tab” on the search page, which Google hopes will make it easier for you, the user, to see your own content. The move will naturally cause concern amongst privacy proponents, but Google has confirmed that the Personal tab will only be available to users who are logged into their personal Google account, with the personal results being collected and taken from other Google services, such as Google Photos and Gmail.

How does Google Personal work?

If you live in the wonderful city of Cardiff, and search for “Cardiff”, you’ll naturally see a list of relevant results, along with relevant images, videos and the maps tab. However, on the right-hand side of the search engine results page (SERP), you’ll be able to select the ‘Personal Tab’ which takes you to another page which looks very similar to the standard Google SERP. However, on this personal page, you’ll be shown a list of items which relate to your experience of Cardiff; this list could include any of your Google Photos taken in the city, and any Gmail messages which contain the word “Cardiff”.

The results are broken up into separate cards, with the message, “Only you can see these results” plastered heavily across the page. As with all SERPs, Google Ads are still visible at the bottom of the page.

Google Personal doesn’t appear to be available to all users at the time of writing, and instead appears to be rolling out gradually, so make sure to check a SERP page near you soon! What’s more, Google Personal is not yet available on the Google App, and, as of yet, Personal lacks support for Google Drive files, but this is likely to change over the coming months.

Privacy fears to be expected

We live in a world where privacy is gradually receding, just look at the UK Government, who recently passed a bill allowing our internet services providers to record our internet browsing activity and provide police and the government with this data should they feel we’re up to no good! As a result, the Google Personal announcement will likely stoke the fire of privacy fears even further, especially if our data is liable to be compromised as a result of hacking – with the NHS and other key organisations across the world recently suffering from a malicious cyber-attack, what’s stopping cyber criminals targeting Google next?

The privacy issue will continue to rumble on for years, but for now, it looks like Google isn’t planning to stop its attempts to glean as much about our daily lives as possible. Just recently, Google announced Lens, a new service which is designed to encourage users to feed Google much more personal data than ever before. As a result, it won’t be long before Google can tell us more about our lives than we can! All joking aside though, does Personal offer digital marketers a new way of attracting users? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Get in touch today, or find us on Twitter and Facebook: let’s discuss everything digital!

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