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"Want To Freak Yourself Out?" Here Is All The Personal Data That Facebook/Google Collect

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The Cambridge Analytica scandal was never really about Cambridge Analytica.

As we've pointed out, neither Facebook nor Cambridge Analytica have been accused of doing anything explicitly illegal (though one could be forgiven for believing they had, based on the number of lawsuits and official investigations that have been announced).

Instead, the backlash to these revelations - which has been justifiably focused on Facebook - is so severe because the public has been forced to confront for the first time something that many had previously written off as an immutable certainty: That Facebook, Google and the rest of the tech behemoths store reams of personal data, essentially logging everything we do.

In response to demands for more transparency surrounding user data, Facebook and Google are offering users the option to view all of the metadata that Google and Facebook collect.

And as Twitter user Dylan Curran pointed out in a comprehensive twitter thread examining his own data cache, the extent and bulk of the data collected and sorted by both companies is staggering.

Google, Curran said, collected 5.5 gigabytes of data on him - equivalent to some 3 million Microsoft Word documents. Facebook, meanwhile, collected only 600 megabytes - equivalent to roughly 400,000 documents.

Another shocking revelation made by Curran: Even after deleting data like search history and revoking permissions for Google and Facebook applications, Curran still found a comprehensive log of his documents and other files stored on Google drive, his search history, chat logs and other sensitive data about his movements that he had expressly deleted.

What's worse, everything shown is the data cache of one individual. Just imagine how much data these companies hold in total.

 

Want to freak yourself out? I'm gonna show just how much of your information the likes of Facebook and Google store about you without you even realising it

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

1. https://t.co/1z255Zt1zf Google stores your location (if you have it turned on) every time you turn on your phone, and you can see a timeline from the first day you started using Google on your phone

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

2. This is every place I have been in the last twelve months in Ireland, going in so far as the time of day I was in the location and how long it took me to get to that location from my previous one pic.twitter.com/I1kB1vwntT

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

3. https://t.co/qFCgY6QLN5 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

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

4. https://t.co/QRfgwkNj80 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

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

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 you go to sleep at) https://t.co/RJeRlXhtdq

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

6. https://t.co/5B6qxUvrJz 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...

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

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 3 MILLION Word documents https://t.co/3Na4FxjNXk

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

8. https://t.co/3Na4FxjNXk 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...

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

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...

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

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

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

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 pic.twitter.com/H8ng7bcyod

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

12. Facebook also stores what it think 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') pic.twitter.com/fqKiNlfATO

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

13. 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) pic.twitter.com/4F5sExbynf

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

14. They also store every time you log into Facebook, where you logged in from, what time, and from what device pic.twitter.com/iWXSPm5Peh

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

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 a HTC phone in November... pic.twitter.com/bkXruVZxLP

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

16. 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 pic.twitter.com/oHyfYndTnJ

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

17. This 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 e-mails, your calendar, your call history, the messages you send and receive...

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

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

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

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 fuck it I want to watch cute dog videos

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

20. I got the Google Takeout document with all my information, and this is a breakdown of all the different ways they get your information pic.twitter.com/mPAbyh1I9k

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

21. Here's the search history document, which has 90,000 different entries, even showing the images I downloaded and the websites I accessed (I showed ThePirateBay section to show much damage this information can do) pic.twitter.com/rZJhJjSe2t

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

22. Here's my Google Calendar broken down, showing all the events I've ever added, whether I actually attended them, and what time I attended them at (this part is what I went for an interview for a Marketing job, and what time I arrived at) pic.twitter.com/mpB7NpLVzT

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

23. This is my Google Drive, which 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 pic.twitter.com/UpfUNTD6yR

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

24. This is my 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) pic.twitter.com/mAYmk8zxwR

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

25. This is all the photos ever taken with my phone, broken down by year, and includes metadata of when and where I took the photos pic.twitter.com/hBuClVijZv

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

26. Every e-mail I've ever sent, that's been sent to me, including the ones I deleted or were categorised as spam pic.twitter.com/mbUOlu6KXN

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

27. And now my Google Activity, this has thousands of files, so I'll just do a short summary of what they have pic.twitter.com/jucdjpQAVY

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

Google even saves a log of every log a user has ever viewed or clicked on, every app they've every opened and every image they've every searched for - and every news article they've ever read.

 

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 pic.twitter.com/DcMdnbzuC6

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

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 pic.twitter.com/xPOK8h3qej

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

30. And then finally, every YouTube video I've ever searched for or viewed, since 2008 pic.twitter.com/0F1Lcwp2FS

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

Curran, who joked that he's "probably on an FBI watchlist" following his twitter thread, explained that the data he highlighted - while some of it might seem obscure - could have thousands of potentially compromising applications, including blackmailing a rival or spying on a spouse.

 

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

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

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 ten years

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

 

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 ten years

— Dylan Curran (@iamdylancurran) March 24, 2018

 

The question now is: Will this transparency actually change user's behavior? Or will Facebook's hollow promises to change be enough to lull its legions of users back into a passive ignorance. As Curran points out, people would be outraged if they discovered the government was monitoring them to this extent. But when Google does it? People hardly bat an eye.

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