Larry and Sergey Google bros

On March 1, Google rolls out a new privacy policy across all its services. They told you it was important, but you didn’t read it. I translated it line-for-line into PG-13 straight talk so you’ll actually pay attention. I also translated the new terms of service.

This shit matters starting March 1, 2012, and will replace the old shit. Please see our overview page for extra shit.

Google is useful as fuck. You can find things, share things, make things, whatever. When you tell us shit about you, we make it even easier for you to do things with our things. Who doesn’t want that? So we want you to know what exactly we do with the shit you tell us, so you don’t accidentally tell us some embarrassing shit.

Our Privacy Policy explains:

  • What we want to know and why.
  • What we do with it once we know it.
  • What you can and can’t tell us, and how to edit and update what you’ve already told us.

We’ve worked really, really hard to dumb it down, but quite frankly this is the internet. So if you don’t know what a cookie is, or that you’re using a browser, you should probably do some fucking research, because we’re not trying to teach “Things you should learn in 2003″ here. We’re, uh, we’re from the future here at Google. Really learn this shit, and then let us know if you have questions, except questions that we’ve already answered. Those are the worst.


Information we collect

Obviously, we want to know things about you. If we don’t know anything about you, you can’t use our awesome things — how the fuck are we supposed to show you email if we don’t know what language you speak? Also, how are we supposed to get you to click on ads if we don’t know what sort of weird shit you’re into? When you’re trying to creep on that girl from chemistry, we want to be as helpful as possible; we’re on team make-it-easy-to-creep. So there are two ways we learn about you:

Information you give us. Sometimes, you just tell us what we want to know. Maybe when you sign up for an account, we’ll ask you for your name and email address, and maybe a phone number or a credit card. Maybe we’ll ask you to give us a picture we can make public. It turns out if we ask nicely, you’ll actually just type that shit in and hit submit. I know, we can hardly believe it either.

Information we get from your use of our services. Sometimes though, we have to be sneakier. You won’t tell us everything we want to know just because we ask… so we take it instead. Oh, don’t worry; you won’t even know it’s gone. It’s like magic, but sneakier. Here’s the stuff we just take:

  • Device information: We might save stuff about the devices you use — what hardware you’ve got, what operating system you’re running, which exact phone you’re using out of all the phones there are, some shit about your mobile network and your phone number, and what accounts you use on them. Just… you know, the basics.
  • Log information: We might just save whatever it is you do with our stuff. Stuff like:
    - What you searched for. You’ve never searched for anything you’re ashamed of, right?
    - Who you call, when you call them, how long you talked, where the call was routed… basically everything about a phone call you make except the actual things you said. That would be an invasion of privacy, after all! We’re not trying to be weird or anything.
    - Your IP address. Yeah, there’s no real way to explain that bro-ly, so do your fucking homework.
    - Stuff about your computers and phones, like when they crash, what you’re doing on them, how you have them set up… really, anything about whatever you log in on.
    - Cookies, but only cookies that track your Google Account or Browser. We want to know who is spying on us through you — we got mad counter-intelligence, yo. Because trust us, we know things that no one else should find out.
  • Location information: If you use a device that can tell where you are… well, yeah. You guessed it. We’re gonna go ahead and file that away, thanks. Also, maybe your device doesn’t know exactly where you are, but we can still figure it out because of the network you’re on or the cell towers around you. We have our ways, is the point, and we might use them.
  • Unique application numbers: Sometimes we use a number to tell which particular instance of an application is running — just, so we know it’s your copy of Google Maps, for example. That way when you ask how to get back home in the middle of the night, we can tell it’s the same person who “anonymously” asked for directions to that sketchy-ass neighborhood in the first place. You know, the one you arrived at about an hour and twenty-eight minutes and thirty-seven seconds ago. That one. Hey, we just want to make sure your maps are up to date! That’s all.
  • Local storage: Sometimes rather than downloading the stuff to our servers here, we just use your computer to store the stuff we collect. So we take it, and then we hide it in the same place we took it from, so we can find it later. I promise, there is a perfectly good reason for that.
  • Cookies and anonymous identifiers: We have a bunch of different ways of collecting and keeping information — that way it’s harder to avoid! So maybe we’ll also create cookies or “anonymous identifiers,” like nametags without names, I guess, and put them on your computer. That way we can tell when you look at ads we use or +1 shit on other sites, because, uh, people totally still use Google Plus. No one you know, but… well, my girlfriend uses it. She’s in Europe. You’ve never met her. No one has, but she’s totally real.


How we use information we collect

Maybe you’re wondering, “What’re you going to do with all my info now that you’ve collected it?” You know, just generally make sure the services work. Also, protect ourselves. And you! We want to protect you. Plus, we’ll give you search results tailored just for you. I’m sure you’re not any different on the internet than you are in real life, so that’ll be totally useful.

We also want to make sure we show you ads that you care about. Maybe you don’t care about ads, but that’s not really an option, because we’re going to see some ads, goddammit.

Also, we’re gonna put your name on things like email and Plus and Docs, things that require names and a login. Maybe you gave us a different name back in the day, because you thought it was cool to be “General Bonesalot” when you sent an email. Yeah, middle school was hilarious, but we’re probably going to get rid of old names and replace them with new ones, so give us your real name or you professors will have some fucking questions at roll call.

Also, if other people already know your email address, we’ll probably show them your name and photo. Don’t worry! We protect your information by only giving it to people who know at least one thing about you. Security is important.

If you try to get in touch with us, obviously we’re gonna go ahead and hold on to that so we can get your issue solved. Plus we’ll email you when things are changing. Remember how we emailed you thirty times about this? We’re just helpful like that.

We’ve placed digital minions all over the web; some of them are just standard cookies. Some of them are single pixels that report back to us. All of them tell us ways to make your life easier, like putting our stuff in the right language or showing cool ads. We’ll make sure, though, that we don’t accidentally identify sensitive things about you, like your race or religion or orientation or health. Those are shameful, shameful things that should be kept secret. Sh. Shhhhhh.

We’ll probably mix and match information, so we know as much about you as we possibly can. That way, you can share everything with people you know! I mean, you probably avoided telling us about that thing with that guy and that dog in Cabot on Plus because it’s a secret, but that’s dumb. We want it to be easy to share everything! So if you tell us that somewhere else, we’ll make sure accidentally revealing your deepest shame is only a click away, no matter where you are.

Oh, uh, except for the DoubleClick advertising stuff we collect. We won’t combine that with stuff that identifies you personally, unless you opt-in to that. Also, if we want to do anything else we haven’t told you about here, we’ll make sure we ask permission first. Since I’m sure you’ve never opted-in to something without knowing exactly what you were doing, you’re totally safe there.

Oh, one more thing. We’re international, motherfucker. So we might process some of your information on a server somewhere else. Haven’t you always wanted to see China? We know you can’t afford it, but we can do the next best thing: send your personal information there! The Chinese government is totally cool with letting your information in, it turns out. They’re such nice guys.


Transparency and choice

People are hiding things for different reasons, so we want to be clear on what we know so you can decide how we use it. For example, you can:

  • Use Dashboard to check out some things we know, and tell us how we can and can’t use it.
  • Set some sweet preferences for ads, like what kinds of ads interest you. Seriously, that’s the absolute best we can do for you, so suck it up and pick some shit you’d like to hear about, because we’re going to tell you about some shit one way or the other, bro. You can opt out of some of our ad services, but pretty much only the ones that give you any control.
  • You can see what your profile looks like to other people, and tweak it by individual. Maybe you want that cute girl from chemistry to know you’re a fucking tank on a keg, but you want your mom to think you only ever study. At Google, we’re all about helping you pretend you’re more impressive than you are.
  • So, you get to decide who knows what. Besides us, of course. We know everything.
  • Delete shit that we know. Seriously, you can make us unlearn things.

You, uh, you can even set your browser to block our cookies and shit. And dude, if you’re into that sort of thing, go for it — fuck, you don’t have to tell us shit. I’m just saying, though, that we use cookies for important things. So if your email is suddenly in Farsi next week, don’t blame us — we forgot what language you spoke, so we had to make do. It was like, “Farsi? Yeah, that sounds right. Or Tajik. But… yeah, no, I’m thinking Farsi.” And now you’ve got to go digging through your settings, but you don’t understand any of the menus, obviously, because it turns out you don’t speak Farsi, so you’re just clicking shit, and now you signed up for ads related to feminine products accidentally, and turned on the “email my entire history to Mom” Lab, which was admittedly a really poorly thought-out Lab on our part… what a clusterfuck. We could have avoided this whole mess with a simple cookie.


Information you share

You can use our services to share info with other people, which is cool, but sometimes ‘other people’ means ‘all other people’, and that thing you only meant to show to your best friend you had the blood pact with accidentally got picked up in our search engine, and unless we have a blood pact (which is covered by a completely different Privacy Policy) we’re telling everyone. So make sure you know what we can and can’t share, and what you want us to unlearn, so you don’t accidentally violate a blood oath. We’d hate for your trapped soul to wander the earth for all eternity. You can’t do kegstands when you’re spectral, bro.


Accessing and updating your personal information

We really work to make sure you know what we know about you, but sometimes we might fuck up and say something that’s just not true. If that happens, it’s our bad and we do our best to update or unlearn the mistake quickly — unless of course we could legitimately make money by not unlearning it. Or unless the government makes us keep the records. But why would the government want to snoop in your life? It’s probably fine. So, when you correct our mistakes, we’ll just make sure you are who you say you are, and then fix it right up! Probably!

Unless, of course, for some reason, what you’re asking of us is hard work. Like, if you keep asking us to double-check the name we have on record for you every hour, fuck, man, knock it off. Or if you’re like, “Hey, can you just get rid of the whole ‘first name, last name’ system altogether? I prefer to be known by the name given to me by my tribe, and I was raised by birds.” Yeah, we’re not going to make it so you can put a chirp as your name, sorry bro. Or if we have to check our backup drives… dude, those are stored down, like, two flights of stairs. And our elevator is really slow. Well, it’s not, I guess, that slow. But the door takes like five seconds to open when it gets to the bottom, so you’re just standing there that whole time, waiting. Ugh.

Obviously, we’re not going to charge you to look up or fix your info, unless you’re being a dick and asking us for all kinds of bullshit. We’re not kidding about how much work we’re not going to do — we work really hard to make sure our shit doesn’t get fucked up by hurricane or hacker, so we might not unlearn things all the way. Sometimes stuff hangs around the servers, and sometimes it gets backed up. DEAL WITH IT.


Information we share

Hey man, don’t worry. If people who don’t work for Google show up asking questions, we’ll keep our fucking mouths shut. Unless, uh, we don’t. And we’ll totally squeal if any of the following happen:

  • You told us we can tell people: Obviously, if you said it was cool to share something, we’ll go ahead and share it. Don’t worry, we’ll always ask — it’s not like we buried the question deep in some document, unless it’s this document.
  • If someone else runs your Account for you: Maybe you’re at a university and they got Google Apps for you, because they want you to live in the future, or your business is forward-thinking like that — then whoever runs it can see your info. Like, all your info. For example:
    - See cool statistics about applications you use.
    - Make your password whatever the fuck they want.
    - Block you out of your account. Permanently? Temporarily? Sure! Who cares? It’s the internet!
    - Read, and also save, info stored under your account. Not just on our servers, also on their servers.
    - Maybe they have different rules than we do — schools get to know tons of shit about their students. So if their rules or laws are different than ours, we’re going to tell them what they need to know.
    - Stop you from editing or deleting or hiding stuff they want to know.
    Maybe they have their own privacy policy where they lay out what they do and don’t want to know. Maybe your school respects your privacy, who knows? But we don’t know anything about that, so don’t look at us.
  • For outside processing: Sometimes someone else handles our data for us — sometimes our servers need a break, sometimes we have a shell company handle our shit, sometimes fuck you, it’s just how things are done, okay? When that happens, we make sure they follow all the same rules we follow, and we make sure they keep secrets and protect things. It’s cool, bro, they’re with us.
  • For legal reasons: If we really think that we’re legally required to tattle on you in order to follow a law or a regulation, or to let some investigation go forward, or to make sure everything is secure and no one is stealing shit and no one is getting hurt or having their rights violated, we’ll do it.

Also, we might tell our bros some things about our users, generally, but they won’t know who we’re talking about. We might be like, “Man, there are a lot of 23-year-old dudes on the Internet!” But, you know, we won’t tell them that you’re one of those dudes. Especially if you’re not, in fact, one of those dudes.

Heh. If someone manages, heh heh, to buy Google, haha, sorry, no one has that much money. But if they did, and they bought us, ahahaha, we would still make sure your info was protected, and we’d let you know if the rules changed. So it’s cool. Also, no one is going to buy us. Ever. So that’s nice.


Information security

Obviously, we try to keep everything safe from hackers. We encrypt with SSL. We’ll use more than just your password to protect your account, because God knows you people use shitty passwords. We’re constantly looking for better ways to protect everything. We don’t let people just wander the fuck in here and start looking shit up, man; we make them sign contracts and stuff, and we will fire their fucking asses if they break our rules. We’ve got your back here.



When we tell you what we’ll protect, we’re talking about everywhere — anything you tell us using any of our services, anywhere at all. Uh, we protect all places, expect the places we don’t protect. Some services might have their own policies so… just, double check, k?

For example, we’re NOT making any promises about other company’s shit, regardless of how you found them. Your Google search for KY Jelly in bulk? Totally protected. The KY reseller that you find with that search? Fuck if we know what they’ll tell anyone, they just advertise with us. They might use cookies, or serve their own ads, we don’t know, and it’s not our job to know.



We got this. We got rules on rules up in here to make sure no one on our end fucks up. When people complain, we deal with it like grown-ups, and if complainers are being kids about it, well shit, we’ll get the authorities involved and work it out. We’re not playing around here, we’ve got worlds to change.



Sometimes we’ll change this. Like now. We’re changing it now. But we won’t ever be like, “OH HEY WE’RE NOT PROTECTING YOU ANYMORE.” Otherwise, what would the point of all this shit be, if we could just undo it whenever we wanted? That’d be dumb. So don’t worry, we’ll let you know when changes happen, and we’ll hold on to old policies so you can double-check those. If you woke up this morning in a cold sweat like, “OH SHIT DID GOOGLE SUDDENLY STOP PROTECTING ME?!” You can, uh, just chill out. You’re still covered.

OK, good! Now check out our Straight Talk Edition of Google’s new terms of service.

  • laura jayne martin

     ”How the f-ck are we supposed to show you email if we don’t know what language you speak?” Most pertinent question I’ve read all day. 

  • Eric

    Farsi and Tajik are actually basically the same, except massive lexical influence from Russian in the case of Tajik.

  • Slacktory

    Nick this is brilliant; it’s the first time I’ve bothered to read the privacy post in any form at all!

    • Anonymous


  • Tsang

    I guess it’s now almost obligatory when offering technical IT advice to demonstrate that no way are you a nerdy pointy-head. Hey, you are a just a straight-talking cat street able to mix it with any beer-swilling slob, except you’re so much brighter of course. A sensible, useful article, pointlessly diminished by presenting it as an harangue of a perpetually angry old bagwomen shuffling through the gutter muttering obscene imprecations at the despised, uncomprehending idiots who plague her life.

    • Anonymous

      Woah, dude, I’ll bet you killed the SAT.

  • Janedoe

    Thanks for the info google. Now I’m changing my browser! Good luck with the stuck on stupid crowd.

  • Exoticlips

    Miles, I enjoyed reading you it was very fun and instructive . but i am seriously creeped out anyway, so bye bye google. sorry but those days, with all that “government can do anything to you know”kinda policy , privacy has became gold amongst us humble people. so i’m just gonna resign. good luck it seems really good

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