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Clicking On This Google Link Shows That They've Been Tracking Your Data Since Forever

4 weeks ago

With all of the hullabaloo surrounding Facebook storing and sharing its user's data, people are getting understandably angry at the social media network, and it's easy to understand why.

There's, of course, the scary thought of everything you've ever shared, posted, messaged, liked, being tracked for businesses to find a way to turn a profit on you. Or a government agency somehow using that data against you in the near future. It's probably the best tool in blackmailing anyone who ever runs for political office, ever.

"Oh so you like to watch Scooby Doo parody porn? Would be a shame if the American people knew about that, Senator..."

For a much more shallow reason, it's pretty easy for people to hate Mark Zuckerberg because, to put it simply, he's a rich nerd. He came up with a seemingly simple idea that revolutionized the way people interact with one another and share media. Couple that with a movie about Zuck's life that doesn't exactly depict the mogul in a favorable light, and it's easy to see why people would want to hate him.

But do companies like Amazon and Google get the same amount of hatred and vitriol that Facebook does? They probably don't, but, as many people online are pointing out, their data-sourcing practices are just as questionable as Facebook's.

Case in point: just take a look at your Google Maps location-tracking history using this tool.

Twitter User Dylan Curran, in a series of tweets, showed just how granular Google gets when it comes to tracking your every move.

I checked out my own location history and noticed that holy cow, Google's been tracking all of my movements (as I've knowingly kept that option enabled) and every place I've accessed my Google account (and one spot where I didn't) showed up on the report.

It event counts the number of days/times you've visited specific locations. This kind of data helps services like "Google Now' pre-empt the traffic to some of your most traveled routes, at the times you're most likely to travel to them.

Now you do have the option to delete your search history and delete your location history, but you're going to have to do that on all of your devices you've ever accessed your Google accounts and services on.

And that's problematic.

So what is Google doing with this data? Like I mentioned above, people think it's mostly about making money off of you. So if you think that those pop-up advertisements on your phones are a little too relevant or in-line with your recent search history, you're not delusional.

I remember talking about a specific sneaker with my sister, not texting, but in a regular conversation. I didn't search for sneakers recently (I shop for clothes like an Eastern European Immigrant male: once a year for an hour and a half maximum and buy all my clothes at once) or text about them, just talked about it, over lunch, with my phone on the table.

Lo and behold an ad for that same exact brand of sneakers popped up the next day while I was browsing through a free app on my phone. The same recently happened when I mentioned to my wife that we needed WD40. An Amazon link showed up on my browser about 4 hours later.

Every Google product and service basically doubles as a data mine.

But you had to know that, since the products are all free, right? I mean how else are they making money off of you?

And if you're wondering just how comprehensive the list is, the answer is that it's seemingly pretty thorough.

So if you want to check out all of the data Google's compiled on you, you can. Just make sure you free up some space on your phone or computer.

I mean everything, down to the number of steps you take with your phone in your pocket.

Those sloppy drunk text messages you sent your ex in an ill-devised plot to win them back? Yeah, those are stored.

Facebook also rounds up your interests and breaks them down.

Down to the stickers you sent people.

So it only makes sense that they'd be tracking where and when you log into the platform.

Your entire digital existence: stored for advertisers to cull data from and target their products to you.

Operating systems, and not just social media platforms, can be just as, if not more, granular.

Which probably explains why Zuck is covering his laptop camera with a post-it. Might want to think about that the next time you're watching an adult film all by your lonesome.

While people are, in theory, wary of government surveillance scenarios, we basically just let corporations do whatever they want with our privacy because they offer cool products at low prices.

It does manage to unfortunately get worse, the more you dig through the documents companies like Google have compiled on you.

Here's an example of what your search history looks like to anyone who's able to access it.

Not only can they track your every move, but document the meetings and events you've attended or blown off.

Think you deleted those files off your Google Drive account? Haha, that's cute.

Have a Google Fit account? Great. Now that company has a complete health/athletic profile on you.

Every photo you ever snapped's been stored as well.

Emails? Every. Single. One. Stored.

And of course they've been keeping dibs on all of your Google-specific activities as well.

Although this isn't information that's necessarily private or kept hidden by any means, it's hard to imagine that many people know the true extent to which the search engine giant is keeping tabs on anyone and everyone who uses their services.

The way all of this data can be used to blackmail or harm individuals is astounding.

Not to mention that if anyone ever does manage to hack your Google account, you could be in a bad spot.

Crazy is an understatement.