Santa Cruz Tech Beat

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What do tech companies know about me? Turns out, a lot

By Brian Bishop
Cruzio Marketing Associate

April 12, 2018 — Santa Cruz, CA

You’ll often hear us Cruzio folks talking about how important privacy is to us, an ISP. We’ve spoken at length about how we won’t mine or use your data, or how we won’t ever sell your data to third parties. But what exactly does that mean? What data’s being collected, and who exactly is affected? You might’ve seen the much-retweeted post recently from @iamdylancurran outlining all the things tech juggernauts like Google and Facebook were keeping and tracking. Well, we were so blown away by that, we decided to go through the steps ourselves.

Below are 8 links and settings that you can look at on Google and Facebook that will tell you exactly what data they’re getting from you, so you can take a look for yourself.

1. Google Knows Exactly Where You’ve Been:

https://www.google.com/maps/timeline

If you have a Google account, and location services is on (most of Google’s services require location services to be turned on, so you most likely do) then Google can show you exactly where you’ve been since it’s been on. If you click through the above link while logged into your Google account, it’ll show you on a map all of the places you’ve been throughout your account’s/mobile device’s history, and even how long it took for you to get between places.

If you don’t like this timeline, you can turn it off by hitting the “Manage Location History” button and switching the feature off at the bottom of the screen. Note that this means it just stops plotting the data on a map for you to see. It’s not stopping Google from collecting the data through location services however.

As a quick aside, Google Location Services is what allows Google’s apps and apps that use Google’s account services to know where you are. Google Maps’ navigation, for example. Of course, Google can use this data to advertise to you. For example, seeing an ad for a nearby restaurant when you’re close by.

2. Turns Out Deleting Your History Doesn’t Delete Your History On Google:

Myactivity.google.com

If you’ve ever deleted your browser history and thought it was over and done with, that’s not quite true. Google stores all of the activity that’s been done on your Google Account, and you can see a record of that on the link above. And this stays around even after you delete your search history. Keep in mind this isn’t just searches, but also stuff like app usage, video history from sites like YouTube, and more. It’s surprisingly thorough.

If you don’t want this data displayed, you can change these settings on your Google Account so that it won’t show this stuff in your timeline. You can find all of these options right here: https://myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols. This will let you pause the timeline feature, or even delete your entire timeline history from being shown on your account. It will also stop them from being able to use this data to affect your search your results though, so your search results will no longer be personalized based on your previous usage patterns.

3. Google Knows What You Like, and Targets Ads Toward You:

https://adssettings.google.com/authenticated

Google’s biggest money maker is its advertising business, so it’s no surprise that Google’s algorithm uses all the information it knows about you to can target ads that you’ll probably want to click on. If you want to see what Google “thinks” about you, you can click through to the link above and it will show you demographics that it thinks you fit into and subjects that it thinks you like.

On this page, Google actually does give you the option to turn this off. It even lets you delete and add topics that you may or may not be interested in, if you want to make the targeting more or less specific.

4. Google Keeps A Record of Every App You’ve Given It Permissions For:

myaccount.google.com/permissions

Continue reading here: https://santacruzfiber.com/blog/what-do-tech-companies-know-about-me-turns-out-a-lot

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