What Google and Facebook know about you

An expert has investigated the data that two internet companies possess and warns others on extent of privacy intrusion.

FILE PHOTO: A 3D-printed Facebook logo are seen in front of displayed binary digits in this illustration
A technical consultant probes data Facebook and Google have on him [Reuters]

Google and Facebook know almost everything a smartphone owner does online or offline and store the information even if the owner deletes the data on the device, a technical consultant and web developer has written on his Twitter account.

“Want to freak yourself out?,” wrote Dylan Curran. “I’m gonna show just how much of your information the likes of Facebook and Google store about you without you even realising it.”

Here is a selection of points from Curran’s list:

  • Google stores your location (if you have it turned on) every time you turn on your phone, and you can see a timeline from the first day you started using Google on your phone. https://www.google.com/maps/timeline 
    [Courtesy of Dylan Curran]
    [Courtesy of Dylan Curran]
  • 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. https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity 
  • Google creates an advertisement profile based on your information, including your location, gender, age, hobbies, career, interests, relationship status, possible weight (need to lose 10lbs in one day?) and income. https://adssettings.google.com/authenticated 
  • 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://myaccount.google.com/permissions?pli=1 
  • 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. https://www.youtube.com/feed/history/search_history 
  • Google offers an option to download all of the data it stores about you, “I’ve requested to download it and the file is 5.5GB big, which is roughly three million Word documents. 
  • Facebook offers a similar option to download all your information, mine was roughly 600mb, which is roughly 400,000 Word documents.
  • This includes every message you’ve ever sent or been sent, every file you’ve ever sent or been sent, all the contacts in your phone, and all the audio messages you’ve ever sent or been sent.
    [Courtesy of Dylan Curran]
    [Courtesy of Dylan Curran]
  • Facebook also stores what it thinks you might be interested in based off the things you’ve liked and what you and your friends talk about.
  • Somewhat pointlessly, they also store all the stickers you’ve ever sent on Facebook.
  • They also store every time you log into Facebook, where you logged in from, what time, and from what device.
  • 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”.
  • Side-note, if you have Windows 10 installed, this is a picture of just the privacy options with 16 different sub-menus, which have all of the options enabled by default when you install Windows 10.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 f**k it I want to watch cute dog videos.
  • Here’s the search history document, which has 90,000 different entries, even showing the images I downloaded and the websites I accessed (I showed ThePirateBay section to show much damage this information can do).
  • “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).”
  • “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.”
  • “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).”
    [Courtesy of Dylan Curran]
    [Courtesy of Dylan Curran]
  • “This is all the photos ever taken with my phone, broken down by year, and includes metadata of when and where I took the photos.”
  • “And now my Google Activity, this has thousands of files, so I’ll just do a short summary of what they have.”
  • “Firstly every Google Ad I’ve ever viewed or clicked on, every app I’ve ever launched or used and when I did it, every website I’ve ever visited and what time I did it at, and every app I’ve ever installed or searched for”.
  • “Every image I’ve ever searched for and saved, every location I’ve ever searched for or clicked on, every news article I’ve ever searched for or read, and every single Google search I’ve made since 2009”.
  • “And then finally, every YouTube video I’ve ever searched for or viewed, since 2008”.
Source: Al Jazeera