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.
Want to freak yourself out? I'm gonna show just how much of your information the likes of Facebook and Google store about you without you even realising it— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018
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.
3. https://t.co/qFCgY6QLN5 Google stores search history across all your devices on a separate database, so even if you delete your search history and phone history, Google STILL stores everything until you go in and delete everything, and you have to do this on all devices— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018
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.
5. Google stores information on every app and extension you use, how often you use them, where you use them, and who you use them to interact with (who do you talk to on facebook, what countries are you speaking with, what time you go to sleep at) https://t.co/RJeRlXhtdq— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018
Every Google product and service basically doubles as a data mine.
6. https://t.co/5B6qxUvrJz Google stores ALL of your YouTube history, so they know whether you're going to be a parent soon, if you're a conservative, if you're a progressive, if you're Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, if you're feeling depressed or suicidal, if you're anorexic...— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018
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.
8. https://t.co/3Na4FxjNXk This link includes your bookmarks, emails, contacts, your Google Drive files, all of the above information, your YouTube videos, the photos you've taken on your phone, the businesses you've bought from, the products you've bought through Google...— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018
I mean everything, down to the number of steps you take with your phone in your pocket.
9. Your calendar, your Google hangout sessions, your location history, the music you listen to, the Google books you've purchased, the Google groups you're in, the websites you've created, the phones you've owned, the pages you've shared, how many steps you walk in a day...— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018
10. Facebook offers a similar option to download all your information, mine was roughly 600mb, which is roughly 400,000 Word documents— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018
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.
15. And they store all the applications you've ever had connected to your Facebook account, so they can guess I'm interested in politics and web and graphic design, that I was single between X and Y period with the installation of Tinder, and I got a HTC phone in November... pic.twitter.com/bkXruVZxLP— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018
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.
17. This includes tracking where you are, what applications you have installed, when you use them, what you use them for, access to your webcam and microphone at any time, your contacts, your e-mails, your calendar, your call history, the messages you send and receive...— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018
18. The files you download, the games you play, your photos and videos, your music, your search history, your browsing history, even what RADIO stations you listen to— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018
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.
19. This is one of the craziest things about the modern age, we would never let the government or a corporation put cameras/microphones in our homes or location trackers on us, but we just went ahead and did it ourselves because fuck it I want to watch cute dog videos— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018
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.
22. Here's my Google Calendar broken down, showing all the events I've ever added, whether I actually attended them, and what time I attended them at (this part is what I went for an interview for a Marketing job, and what time I arrived at) pic.twitter.com/mpB7NpLVzT— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018
Think you deleted those files off your Google Drive account? Haha, that's cute.
23. This is my Google Drive, which includes files I EXPLICITLY deleted including my resume, my monthly budget, and all the code, files, and websites I've ever made, and even my PGP private key, which I deleted, which I use to encrypt e-mails pic.twitter.com/UpfUNTD6yR— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018
Have a Google Fit account? Great. Now that company has a complete health/athletic profile on you.
24. This is my Google Fit, which shows all of the steps I've ever taken, any time I walked anywhere, and all the times I've recorded any meditation/yoga/workouts I've done (I deleted this information and revoked Google Fit's permissions) pic.twitter.com/mAYmk8zxwR— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018
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.
31. I'm probably on an FBI watch-list now, so if I die in the next few months IT WASN'T AN ACCIDENT, IT WAS A SET-UP— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018
The way all of this data can be used to blackmail or harm individuals is astounding.
32. This information has millions of nefarious uses and violates multiple human rights, you're not a terrorist? Then how come you were googling ISIS? Work at Google and you're suspicious of your wife? Perfect, just look up her location and search history for the last ten years— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018
Not to mention that if anyone ever does manage to hack your Google account, you could be in a bad spot.
33. Manage to gain access to someone's Google account? Perfect, you have a chronological diary of everything that person has done for the last ten years— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018
Crazy is an understatement.