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Big Alphabet Brother

It’s 11am, do you know where your location data is? This was a bit of an eye-opener to me. Of course, I know that my phone is sending data back to Google about where I am. It will occasionally ask me to rate a place I was. Or, less successfully, to rate a place I walked past.

However, I have never looked at what all of that data looks like. And it’s kind of crazy. That photo at the top is the view from 30,000 feet of what Google knows about my adventures in NY.

Interesting, but it gets really intriguing when you zoom in and you see all the tiny little pins of specific places. And it gets completely bonkers when you realize you can look at the information by date. Here is a shot from one day of my last trip to NY.

Pretty crazy, right? But wait… there’s more. To the left of that is the text based version that looks similar to what you are used to seeing when you get directions from Google. But now it is a timeline of your whole day. On this day, for example, I can tell you that after having coffee at Maman with Allison, I spent 80 minutes at Penelope having dinner with Rebeccah before we walked half a mile to see our friend Lauren’s show at Tada. I can even tell you what photos I uploaded to instagram, because those are backed up to Google drive, and so have been inserted into the timeline.

Now, I get that there are huge privacy concerns to be weighed when looking at this level of data being stored about individuals. In general, I’m ok with what has been captured in my history. And there is a bit of fun to be had retracing previous adventures.

But all of this does serve as a reminder to be mindful of where your data is going. If there are places and things you don’t want a record of, even if it is supposedly only accessible by you, be sure to turn those features off before embarking on those adventures.

If you would like to see what info is on your Google timeline you can find it at google.com/maps/timeline.

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