I had a Google Account for a very long time before I realized there was such a thing as my Dashboard. The reason for that is because it’s not particularly noticeable. It’s buried, if you will, as the 5th text link on the Settings page.
The main reason, though, is that there’s virtually no reason to log in to Google Account Settings. If I’m going to Webmaster Tools, for instance, I just go there directly.
The Dashboard is an A to Z listing of all the Google products you use and the information you’ve freely given away about yourself in each one. As mentioned elsewhere, Google is now making moves to sell some of your personal information to gazillion-dollar marketers who want more of your money. (And who knows what else down the line.) Or did I mention that? It just cracks me up. It’s like vampires trying to suck blood out of the embalmed. What I mean by ‘some of your personal information’ is that around and around it goes and where it stops nobody knows.
But I do think it’s nice of Google to make a list where you can go shoot yourself with a Taser if you haven’t already. They want you to trust them. At the very least you’re going to need a good sedative.
What I love about the “My Products – Edit” button is that the only choice it gives me is to delete my entire account. I can’t actually get rid of any of the products except Orkut or Google Books. My Calendar, for instance. It has a delete button but it just won’t go away.
The first time I saw my Dashboard, I was quite unpleasantly surprised to see that I had over 800 Contacts listed. A long time ago, when GMail was by invitation only, I had a GMail account. I never used it but I set it up to see what it was. In the process I imported my email contacts. When I killed the account shortly thereafter (creeped out as I was) I assumed all my Contacts went away with it. Apparently not. They appear to have been sitting in Google’s massive database of information ever since. Things that are none of their business. Companies I’ve had dealings with, my medical contacts, my family, my friends …
It’s true I did set up another account at some other point with the surname Anon. I came across it in my password database and could not, for the life of me, remember when or why that happened. I tried to log in and they said I didn’t exist and that was just fine because that was the plan.
I don’t remember but I may have imported my Contacts again into that account because it seems to me there were at least two variations of my address book in my Dashboard. But I’m just not that forthcoming with personal details and it’s hard to figure out how they got all that information.
On one screen I had to delete the Contacts one at a time … about 600. The next morning when I got up there were another 257 that had sprouted up overnight like weeds. Another screen, blessedly, had a Select All/Delete All option. When you delete things from Google do they truly go away or is it just a front for ‘Ha, ha, we fooled you … you just think they went away’?
The Dashboard also contains a listing of all my Twitter posts.
This one loses me entirely. It’s called Google Buzz. Huh. I thought Twitter was called Twitter. I can delete Buzz but they say it will disconnect me from anyone I’m following. Does that mean Twitter? Buzz and Profile is connected, so I can’t have a Profile (i.e. name and logo which is all I’m giving away) without them also indexing my social posts. Frankly, I don’t want to re-see what I wrote last week. It makes me want to stop being social. Why does Google think they need to take charge of this? This is the next thing to go.
And then there’s a thing called my Google Social Circle. All the links from other people’s Twitter accounts and websites. And LinkedIn accounts and any other accounts along the lines of ‘social’. And people who are linked to the people who are linked to me. A handy alphabetized social directory and poor man’s Facebook.
Huh again. Kind of like when Ancestry.com decided they were going to collect all our personal websites into a database and put their logo on them. Google now fancies Itself the keeper of my social life, bless Its presumptuous little heart.
I was also amazed to see that I belong to 26 different Google Groups. Really? Have I asked that many questions on that many different topics? I don’t think so. Or did they just assign me to them by default? I’ll have to look at that more closely.
The list goes on and on and you may be stunned by the time you get to the bottom of yours.
And what’s in your Dashboard is not everything Google knows about you. They also know every single word or phrase you’ve ever typed into their Search Engine. And every single comment you’ve ever made on any blog anywhere using your Google ID. And every comment (or rant) you’ve ever posted at one of their Help Forums.
If you’ve ever had an AdWords or AdSense account they will also have some or all of the following: your street address, your phone number, alternate contacts, bank account and credit card information.
l think it would be safe to say that Google knows more about you than you know about yourself. And if you could get your hands on everything they know … and you can’t … you might be amazed to find that you had a passing interest in armadillos in 2003. Really?