Google and Facebook are two of the largest and clearest monopolies in the world, and between them, the harvesting of your personal information goes far beyond what most people realize was even possible.
I have recently removed Google Search from this website and replaced with a search engine without the privacy concerns, but has similar capabilities. The search bar at the top of the website is the most used and essential feature for you to research the many thousands of pages I've published over the last 20 years.
Google catches every single thing you do online if you’re using a Google-based feature, and Facebook has a record of everything you’ve ever said or “liked.” All of this data is being used to build very powerful personality profiles that are sold for profit and used in a variety of different ways. As previously reported by Gawker:1
“Every word of every email sent through Gmail and every click made on a Chrome browser is watched by the company. ‘We don’t need you to type at all,’ [Google co-founder Eric] Schmidt once said. ‘We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.’”
Facebook Sells Your User Data, and It Can Be Used Against You
According to CNN Money,2 98 percent of Facebook’s revenue comes from advertising, totaling $39.9 billion last year alone. The company is now facing a firestorm after The New York Times and British media outlets reported Cambridge Analytica used “improperly gleaned” data from 87 million Facebook users to influence American voters.3
This is not the first time political parties have utilized facebook data without your knowledge, and it won't be the last. Political parties will continue to fight about who used what data to manipulate voters in the least worst way. What is important to understand is that you and your network of friends are being heavily watched and this data is sold with the intent to manipulate your actions.
This manipulation is not just about politics, it's making YOU the product. The intimate details about you, your family and friends are being sold because it is valuable to entities that want to influence you.
In the video above, Cambridge Analytica data scientist Christopher Wylie, who blew the whistle on his employer, revealing the company built “a system that could profile individual U.S. voters in order to target them with personalized political advertisements” during the presidential campaign. As noted by CNN:
“If the Cambridge Analytica scandal leads to tougher data protection regulations — as some policymakers are demanding — or puts people off sharing as much about themselves online, that could hurt Facebook's revenue, and that of all social media platforms.”
It’s important to realize that Google is also the world’s greatest artificial intelligence (AI) company, having purchased Deep Mind for $400 million several years ago. Deep Mind now employs over 700 AI researchers, the largest collection anywhere in the world.
They are responsible for defeating the human Go champion in 2017, which far exceeds the complexity of defeating a human chess champion. With this level of AI, it is not hard for them to sort through all your data with their deep learning algorithms to detect patterns that can be exploited for profit.
What Kind of Data Does Facebook and Google Really Have on You?
In a March 30 article for The Guardian,4 Dylan Curran takes a deep dive into the data harvesting going on between Facebook and Google, and for anyone concerned about their privacy, the results are disconcerting to say the least. Here’s a summary list of the kind of information these two corporations collect, track and store on each and every single user:
Extremely detailed location tracking
If you have a Google-enabled device on your person that has location tracking turned on, it will store the exact details of where you are at any given moment, and this data accumulates from the first day you started using Google on the device. To review the details of your own data, see this Google Maps Timeline link.5
Complete search histories on all devices
Google keeps tabs on everything you’ve ever searched for, on any device, including search histories you’ve deleted from an individual device. To check your own search data, see Google’s MyActivity page.6
Personalized advertisement profile
Based on your data profile — location, gender, age, work and private interests, relationship status, income, health concerns, future plans and so on — Google creates personalized advertisements that might interest you. Have you ever done a search for a particular product or service and suddenly found yourself flooded with ads for that precise thing? That’s your data profile at work. To see your personalized ad profile, see Google’s Ads Settings.7
Do you use apps and extensions? If so, Google knows which ones you’re using, how often, when, where and with whom you’re interacting when you do. To see your app usage data, check out Google’s Security Permission Settings.8
Much can be gleaned from the types of videos you’re interested in, and Google keeps tabs on every single one you’ve ever searched for, watched and commented on. To review your own data, see your Youtube Feed History page.9
Like Google, Facebook records, tracks and stores every single thing you do on Facebook: Every post, comment, “like,” private message and file ever sent and received, contacts, friends lists, login locations, stickers and more. Even the recurrent use of certain words is noted and can become valuable currency for advertisers.
When Curran downloaded all of the information Facebook has stored on him, he ended up with a 600MG file, or roughly 400,000 word documents. For individuals who start using Facebook at a young age, the lifetime data harvest could be inconceivably large. To view and download your Facebook data, see Facebook’s Download Your Info page.10
Clandestine microphone access
Disturbingly, both Facebook and Google have the ability to access your microphone without your knowledge. If you suddenly find yourself on the receiving end of ads for products or services you just spoke about out loud, chances are one or more apps are linked into your microphone and are eavesdropping. Below is a video by Safer Tech describing how to disable the microphone on your device to prevent Facebook and Google apps from listening in.11