Are you sharing personal data online? Yes. Most likely reams of it.

Image source: The Guardian

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard B, who shares a link to this article from The Guardian highlighting the amount and type of personal data Google and Facebook collect on their users. While some readers may not be surprised, this could still be eye-opening to some.

The article includes sections highlighting the type of data collected, how you can view this data, and (when possible) how to halt collection and delete it. Here are some of the section headings:

  • Google knows where you’ve been
  • Google knows everything you’ve ever searched – and deleted
  • Google has an advertisement profile of you
  • Google knows all the apps you use
  • Google has all of your YouTube history
  • The data Google has on you can fill millions of Word documents
  • Facebook has reams and reams of data on you, too
  • Facebook stores everything from your stickers to your login location
  • They can access your webcam and microphone
  • Here are some of the different ways Google gets your data
  • Google knows which events you attended, and when
  • And Google has information you deleted
  • Google can know your workout routine
  • And they have years’ worth of photos
  • Google has every email you ever sent
  • And there is more

Very interesting article and well worth the read. Click here to view.

This is also a nice reminder of why over-the-air radio is so appealing in terms of privacy. It offers the best in anonymity–certainly a bonus for those living under repressive regimes.

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8 thoughts on “Are you sharing personal data online? Yes. Most likely reams of it.

  1. Carlos

    This is insane. Yes, tech companies can be evil. Yes, they store as much information they can get on you, although that isn’t news. The solution is not over-the-air radio, given that:
    a. Getting a signal from long distances is prohibitively difficult. It can be the case that people in countries whose government does not jam signals can still not receive signals from other countries. I’m trying to tune into RHC right now–their Spanish language signal is audible and understandable to me as long as I’m using someone else’s antenna that is in the southeast U.S., but my portable receiver with wire antenna won’t catch it. Not even the few remote antennas in the southeast I’ve tried are getting the English broadcast tonight. They usually do, but this is a Cuban station that sends its signal out with tons of power and I’m trying to receive it in Virginia, Florida, and Texas. Imagine how much unapproved signal gets into China. I’m guessing very near zero.
    b. It’s extremely easy to kill. I’ve covered jamming, so I won’t take that on. However, the plague of shortwave listening is RFI. Another problem for listening in China. I am rather confident in saying that your chance of getting a signal when you live and work in massive cities like Shenzhen is again zero. All ten million of them can use the internet, limited though it is, and find data their government hasn’t found and blocked or use other computer and network based systems that allow them more capabilities.
    c. It’s limited. You want to see concentration of message? Google and facebook can only dream of what information restrictions shortwave has. In order to broadcast much information on a shortwave frequency, you need extremely expensive equipment and power. Hence why our broadcasters are all governments, nutcases who think that shortwave is the way to get a large audience, and the odd local station that we manage to DX. Those local stations are nice, but they don’t broadcast such that we can get them when we want. Their focus is on a smallish region, providing the same amount of freedom and flexibility for their listeners as would a mediumwave station.
    d. Limited information bandwidth. If I want to know about a thing, I cannot get the answer from the radio, unless the thing is “some news stories”. If we limit ourselves to radio that can be received easily, then we have news media that is known to operate in the area, so for the case of repressive nations, nothing worthwhile. If we have shortwave for long-distance, then we have news stories as interpreted by various national governments and the odd religious organization. Traditional journalists don’t often broadcast in shortwave, except for some limited availability on the BBC, because the normal job is to get a message across. I enjoy hearing this message as much as the next person, but let’s not flatter ourselves in thinking that the Chinese government’s stance on whether a tariff on Chinese aluminium is good (spoiler: no) is useful to us. If I want any specific information, or to read a book, or learn about details, or communicate, especially if my government doesn’t want me to do that, radio won’t help.
    In short, radio can be useful in getting information. Shortwave is probably useful in areas where there isn’t much else, as even when technology for internet usage is available in developing countries, it can be prohibitively expensive. I’m sure you can get international news more easily when your nation is smaller than mine. Radio is also nice in developed countries, as it’s a convenient source of news and entertainment that is extremely cheap to use, but that’s local radio. International radio is almost useless here, defined as pretty much any developed country, whether democratic or not.
    As for the internet, it’s made up of big companies and countries. As with any other system, if you don’t make an effort to figure out what it is good for and what its problems are, then one of the problems will hit you in the head and you won’t like it. By the way, this includes being logical about what capabilities and realities exist. The list of short descriptions of what data is held is true to the extent that each item is possible and has an example of collection, but extremely misleading. If you don’t want facebook to have data on you, take the following steps:
    1. Don’t give facebook any data.
    2. Get your government to prevent facebook buying up data on people (ideally all people, but at least those people who don’t have accounts).
    3. Introduce regulations about what companies are allowed to do with your data. Companies that survive on the parasitic system of data exploitation, including facebook, will begin to wane and/or change when such regulation exists.
    4. If 2 and 3 fail, succumb to cynicism, but above all, do not violate point 1.

  2. Kire

    I have used duckduckgo for at least 3 maybe 4 years and dont touch facebook. I don’t have much to hide but do find the “machine” as i call it, predictable, and incredibly invasive.
    While we can drop google as a search engine it does seem like googs and facebook are here to stay since the govt has invested quite a bit in these two companies. Too big to fail, anyone?

    1. Bill Le

      DuckGogo used Yandex as a search engine. Cleanish.

      But will people ever use their Tools > Privacy >erase cookies/history settings on their browser. Not so much.
      Will there be defaults for privacy in the next iterations? I doubt it.
      Vivaldi (derived by ex-Opera browser persons) has added DuckGoGo as a privacy setting.

  3. TomL

    Dylan also posted this on twitter and it has almost 1/4 million likes and over 160,000 retweets. It is definitely a topic that we should all think about and investigate. Google is not the only one doing things with our data behind our backs and sometimes in very biased ways (example – Facebook GAVE the Obama campaign user-data during the 2012 election). Regulation + alternative platforms (competition) needed???

    1. Richard Langley

      “President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign mined supporters’ personal data from Facebook to benefit its voter turnout program. But former campaign officials said Wednesday they accessed and used the information in vastly different ways than Cambridge Analytica, the firm connected to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign accused of improperly lifting data on 50 million Facebook users.”


  4. Steve

    Aside from actively managing your privacy settings in social media accounts and software there are other changes that can help reclaim your privacy. Switching from Google and Bing to as my default search engine made a big difference in targeted advertising for me as they do not track you or retain your search queries, there are no charges. Changing from you ISP’s default or Google’s DNS servers to a DNS server service like helped as well. This particular DNS service does not track your web traffic in either direction and is free as well. Doing this will help prevent your ISP from building a marketable profile of you. Subscribing to and faithfully using a VPN service like NordVPN can further help protect your personally identifiable data. Each of the above sites and services has how to’s to help you implement the changes. The TOR Project browser and related Onion browser for Apple can also help. This is what I do.


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