The Four Benefits of Data Mining: Google’s Side of the Data Story

Whenever you use a free application, website, or service, the companies behind it gain large amounts of information about you and then package you with other users with similar ages and interests to be sold to advertisers. This process is called data mining, is how Google generated a staggering $134.81 billion in advertising in 2019 alone.

With advertising accounting for over 70% of Google’s revenue, it has no other option than to try to convince us that we should not only tolerate its data collection and mining but accept it, because of its many advantages.

Data collection makes your phone a lot more useful

Your phone is your personal assistant, and the more information about you it gets fed, the more things it can do for you.

Would you care that your data is being collected if Google could use it to make things easier for you? You could tell your phone to book a car for you, and since your phone knows where you're headed and at what time you’re to arrive by simply reading your emails it’ll automatically do that for you. This is how Google's data collection helps your phone to provide more value and usefulness to you.

You get a lot more value for your data

Data collection is a transaction, you give Google your data which is then sold to advertisers and in return, you get unlimited access to their free services; you get to watch a million YouTube videos as long as Google knows what your interests are, and use such information to show you tailored ads.

Everyone wants to save money, so Google can simply point to the price tag of its free or cheap services and android devices to show us how much value we get from allowing it to collect our data, low-end/budget smartphones, and free services that we use in our everyday lives.

Letting Google collect your data is giving to charity

Critics argue Google’s services like Drive, Maps, Translate, Gmail and many of their other tools aren’t really free, and that you pay with your personal information rather than money. This begs the question if data has value, then isn't donating it to Google more or less charity? Simply giving Google access to your photos helps Google Translate to be better at reading texts, thus helping disadvantaged people across the globe.

Wouldn’t you want to give up your data if it makes you feel good that you’re helping people living in poverty who can’t pay subscriptions for services and who can’t afford high-end smartphones? Data mining is how Google is able to provide so many quality services for free to people who wouldn’t be able to afford it.

Your data is still in your control and is still private

Even though Google needs your data, it has been steadily releasing more privacy features, it has announced, amongst other things, the ability to use your Android phone as a hardware security key to provide an additional layer of authentication to access your accounts. It also added new auto delete controls to erase your location history, and web and app activity after a period of three to 18 months.

Google also announced federated learning, where your device can make use of your data without Google, the company, being able to see it. It works by running machine learning on your phone rather than on Google cloud, and it’s similar to Apple’s Differential privacy.

Google’s basic business model is one that uses your data to sell tailored advertisements, but with every update, Google tries to convince us, its customers, that we should accept its data mining by providing a lot of features and value in exchange for our data and also more privacy controls to protect that data.

In a nutshell, No, we shouldn’t trust Google, although it provides its customers with a lot of value through its suite of apps and with the help of its new features, still manages to respect your privacy, it’s still a tech giant and at the heart of every big company is the goal of turning in as much profit as possible to keep shareholders happy, even in the expense of its customers.

The only thing we should trust is that Google will try to do what’s in its best financial interests and we should make sure its interests are most aligned with ours.

Misan Etchie is an experienced content writer, digital marketer and tech enthusiast. He writes about startups, tech, business, and all things cyber security and he specializes in using written contents to build genuine audience around businesses. He's a blog contributor to a number of authoritative publications online.

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