Google Knows My Birthday (And Yours Too)

Birthday Google

With respect to digital-age privacy concerns, many of us walk the line between blissfully unaware and full-on Doomsday Prepper. But at some point, you get a “Happy Birthday!” message from Google and have to face the fact that most of your personal information is online somewhere.

On November 27 (not that you don’t already know the date, Internet!) a cheerful cake-themed Google doodle welcomed me to the search engine’s homepage. When I hovered over the image, a greeting appeared: “Happy Birthday, Kristen!”

Well, if I didn’t feel as special as Neo in The Matrix! Isn’t it something when your computer talks to you? Why, yes I will follow the white rabbit, thank you very much. And I will tell everyone about it on Facebook, and I will even mention it on Google Plus, and I will hope someone at Google will notice my post and maybe even Plus-1 me! (They didn’t.) Overall, I was pretty darn delighted with the birthday doodle.

But should I have been freaked out instead? For some reason, it’s cute for Google to remind me that they know my birthday, but unsettling when I think about how they probably also know my location, my gender and more—information I either handed over when I signed up for Gmail back in the day, or data they have gathered on me from my browsing habits and email content.

What’s the only business in the world that doesn’t have to worry about ranking high on Google? Google. But they do have to rank high among public opinion. (Or maybe not. I mean, would we boycott?) Regardless, Google aims to project an image of benevolence, and one way the tech giant crafts its persona is through content marketing. Like the birthday doodle.

So, when Google invokes an unpopular policy—like reminding everyone that oh yeah, they also own YouTube, so if you want to make your snarky comments you’re gonna need a Google Plus account for that—a little birthday wish calms us down. Because content marketing isn’t just about getting folks to buy stuff. It’s also about getting them to like you.

Read more about Google and content marketing.

Kristen Jackson – Freelance Writer & Editor

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