Google already knows you're a 24-year old woman who loves wombats

Despite the controversy over Google's new privacy policy, the company already has you wrapped up into a neat little demographic package, as I was reminded yesterday when looking at my Google account settings. How accurate are Google's guesses? We asked the Ars staff to take a look.

Google attempts to guess your rough age and gender, along with several top categories of interest, based on your interactions with Google products like search. You can view these guesses through your Google account, and opt out of tracking if you like. We found often accurate demographic information, with most males guessed correctly. In our not-so-scientific analysis of reports on Twitter and other sites that have posted about the page, the demographics tend to mistake women for men much more often (I'm pegged as a 25-34 year-old male, as was Jacqui Cheng before she opted out).

With regard to category interests, the demographic profiles easily pick up on things like travel searches. Our own Ryan Paul said Google captured him perfectly, with categories about computers and electronics, video games, and cats. Others are misunderstood souls: senior editor Nate Anderson, for instance, insists he is not into urban and hip hop music—despite its placement at the top of his ad categories.

If you have opted out of ad tracking as per our guide, or if you clear your cookies very often, you may not be able to see how Google envisions you. But if you haven't, feel free to check out your own profile and share its guesses about you in the comments.

Casey Johnston