33 ways you’re being tracked online

by @iamdylancurran
Images by Anthony Freda

Want to freak yourself out? Consider how much of your information the likes of Facebook and Google store about you without you even realizing it:

1. Timeline: Google stores your location (if you have it turned on) every time you turn on your phone, from the first day you started using Google on your phone.

2. Locations visited and how long it took you to get from previous one.

3. Google My Activity: 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.

4. Google ads: 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.

5. 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 do you go to sleep?) on Google Permissions.

6. YouTube search history: 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.

7. 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.

8. Google takeout: 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.

9. 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…

10. Facebook offers a similar option to download all your information. Mine was roughly 600mb, which is roughly 400,000 Word documents.

11. 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.

12. Facebook also stores what it thinks you might be interested in based on the things you’ve liked and what you and your friends talk about (I apparently like the topic ‘Girl’).

13. Somewhat pointlessly, they also store all the stickers you’ve ever sent on Facebook.

14. They also store every time you log into Facebook, where you logged in from, what time and from what device.

15. 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 an HTC phone in November.

16. Side-note: If you have Windows 10 installed, the privacy options have 16 different sub-menus, which have all of the options enabled by default when you install Windows.

17. They track 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.

18. 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.

19. 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*ck it, I want to watch cute dog videos.”

20. The Google Takeout document has all my information, with breakdown of all the different ways they get your information.

21. Their search history document, which has 90,000 different entries, even shows the images I downloaded and the websites I accessed.

22. Google Calendar shows all the events I’ve ever added, whether I actually attended them and what time I attended them.

23. Google Drive 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.

24. 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).

25. All the photos ever taken with my phone, broken down by year and includes metadata of when and where the photos were taken.

26. Every e-mail I’ve ever sent, that’s been sent to me, including the ones I deleted or were categorized as spam.

27. And now my Google Activity; this has thousands of files so I’ll just do a short summary of what they have.

28. 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.

29. 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.

30. And then finally, every YouTube video I’ve ever searched for or viewed, since 2008.

31. I’m probably on an FBI watch-list now, so if I die in the next few months, it wasn’t an accident, it was a set-up.

32. This information has millions of nefarious uses and violates multiple human rights. 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.

33. 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.

Leave a comment