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Painted Brain | What Google And Facebook Knows About You
We're bridging communities and changing the conversation about mental illness using arts and media.
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What Google and Facebook knows about you


By Matthew Permuy and Kevin Naruse

“What Google and Facebook knows about you.”

Both Google and Facebook have been known for many years to collect and store many pieces of information on you and about you.  Google stores your location (if you have location tracking turned on) every time you turn on your phone. You can see a timeline of where you’ve been from the very first day you started using Google on your phone.  From deleted photos and status messages to deleted friends and instant messages, these buggers know just about who you are, where you are and at what times!

 Many people do not care about this stuff, but a lot of us do. It is hard to get around this in today’s technology age. We all have smartphones, either Android or iPhone, and have at some point used Google to search, have Gmail, used Facebook and the like.  But after many years of using these apps, it does add up and the results are a bit startling. Anyone can hack into someone’s Google account or Facebook account and now we know how and why.

For the techy people out there, these things come easy to them. If you know your way around the applications, you can find out just about anything on anyone.  It is all up to personal preference, but many people today have opted out of using social media and Google due to all of the bad publicity out there regarding sharing content, etc.

Here are ways that both Google and Facebook can use your data and how you can see it for yourself on your end. On a mental health standpoint, this is enough to make anyone paranoid about putting anything out there on the web.  

Google knows everything you’ve ever searched – and deleted

Google stores search history across all your devices. That can mean that, even if you delete your search history and phone history on one device, it may still have data saved from other devices.

Click on this link to see your own data: myactivity.google.com/myactivity

Google has an advertisement profile of you

Google creates an advertisement profile based on your information, including your location, gender, age, hobbies, career, interests, relationship status, possible weight (need to lose 10lb in one day?) and income.

Click on this link to see your own data: google.com/settings/ads/

Google knows all the apps you use

Google stores information on every app and extension you use. They know how often you use them, where you use them, and who you use them to interact with. That means they know who you talk to on Facebook, what countries are you speaking with, what time you go to sleep.

Click on this link to see your own data: security.google.com/settings/secur…

Google has all of your YouTube history

Google stores all of your YouTube history, so they probably 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 …

Click on this link to see your own data: youtube.com/feed/history/s…

The data Google has on you can fill millions of Word documents

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 3m Word documents.

 Manage to gain access to someone’s Google account? Perfect, you have a diary of everything that person has done

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 …

They also have data from 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 …

Click on this link to see your own data: google.com/takeout

Facebook has reams and reams of data on you, too

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.

Click here to see your data: https://www.facebook.com/help/131112897028467

Facebook stores everything from your stickers to your login location

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 (I apparently like the topic “girl”).

Somewhat pointlessly, they also store all the stickers you’ve ever sent on Facebook (I have no idea why they do this. It’s just a joke at this stage).

They also store every time you log in to 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)

They can access your webcam and microphone

The data they collect 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 emails, 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.  

Google knows which events you attended, and when

Google can take your Google Calendar and break it down, showing all the events you’ve ever added, whether you have actually attended them, and what time you attended them.

And Google has the information you deleted

Google has information on your Google Drive, which includes files you may have deleted including private documents such as medical history, financial history, etc.

Google can know your workout routine

Google Fit, which shows all of the steps you’ve ever taken, any time you walk anywhere, and all the times you’ve recorded any meditation/yoga/workouts that you have done.

And they have years’ worth of photos

All the photos you have ever taken with your smartphone phone, broken down by year, and includes metadata of when and where you took the photos, can be displayed.

Google has every email you ever sent

Every email you have ever sent, that’s been sent to you,  including the ones you have deleted or were categorized as spam.  This is really scary since Google at first was not at all about sending SPAM and now it seems a lot of people who have Gmail receive a lot of SPAM mail.  It seems like it is getting worse with time due to hacking.

And just when it wasn’t interesting enough……..there is more 

There could be thousands of files on what you have viewed or clicked on in Google. 

First, every Google Ad you’ve ever viewed or clicked on, every app you’ve ever launched or used and when you did it, every website you’ve ever visited and what time you did it at, and every app you’ve ever installed or searched for.

They also have every image you’ve ever searched for and saved, every location you’ve ever searched for or clicked on, every news article you’ve ever searched for or read, and every single Google search you’ve made since 2009. And then finally, every YouTube video you’ve ever searched for or viewed, since 2008.

This information has millions of nefarious uses. You say 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 10 years. Manage to gain access to someone’s Google account? Perfect, you have a chronological diary of everything that person has done for the last 10 years.  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 – to hell with it! – I want to watch cute dog videos.

All of this information is very scary and concerning, to say the least.  At work, we have had several meetings about corporate fraud, misuse of information, SPAM, etc. and it is getting worse both professionally wise and personally wise.  At what point can we as the public draw the line? No more cell phones? No more email? No more computers? Not sure, but getting rid of devices like Alexa and other Bluetooth speakers can help because they do pick up on what you are saying.  This one was a bit depressing but seems to be in the public eye frequently lately, so it is wise to share and spread the information. At the end of the day, it is all a personal choice. If someone doesn’t have anything to hide, then who cares what is being tracked, right??  That is a matter of opinion.  

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