Like Facebook, Google holds vast amounts of personal information on all of its users.
The difference is that the search and advertising giant has mostly collected this information from your search and browsing history, and even from records of the YouTube videos you've viewed.
Using the Google Dashboard
If you sign into Google and visit the Dashboard, you'll find information relating to your search history, every photo album you've visited and even a list of all the videos you've watched on YouTube.
What does the company do with all that information? Mostly it uses it to target adverts in the hope of earning more money from retailers that pay it to show you relevant ads.
Head to the Ad Preferences and you'll find a list of the interests and other details that Google has stored on you. It can be surprisingly accurate, making guesses at your age and gender.
The good news? You can remove any interest category that’s been given to you by clicking the 'X' button alongside categories.
Within Dashboard there are also options for downloading your information – vital if you want to delete pictures from Google and still have a copy.
Also tucked away in Dashboard is an option for restricting access to your personal account data for other applications from within the Google stable. For example, when you're signed in to Gmail Google's online cloud storage service, Google Drive, the company has 'Full account access', allowing it to delve into Google Contacts, Google Docs and Google Talk. Quora, meanwhile, can access profile information and contacts, and Twitter can read your contacts.
Click on Websites authorized to access the account to revoke access if desired.
Opting out of targeted advertising
Many people resent being tracked for adverts and Google does at least provide tools for opting out of targeted adverts based on the information gathered across the web.
If you find the practice irritating, sign into Google's Ad Settings, and either opt out of Ads on Google or Google Ads across the web, or both.
Alternatively consider a rival search engine such as DuckDuckGo, which promises not to collect personal data.
Track your name with Google Alerts
The Google Alerts feature will send you an email every time new content is posted to the web for certain search terms.
You can use this to be alerted if anything associated with your name is posted online. Enter your name as an alert term on the Google Alerts website and Google will email you every time information matching your name is posted. This is more useful if you have a less common name.