Published: 2018-03-29 23:50
Last Updated: 2018-03-30 10:49
Editor: Randa Darwish
The misuse of personal data acquired by giant online networks has taken a center stage in public discussions motivated by the latest scandal of the UK-based company, Cambridge Analytica.
The company had allegedly used illegally obtained data of millions of Facebook users to target voters in political campaigns, including Trump's 2016 election bid and the Brexit vote.
While the investigation is still ongoing, questions about what information can be obtained and stored by social media companies and who can gain access to it are the topic of public debate.
In a recently-released article in The Guardian, Dylan Curran, a data consultant and web developer working on spreading technical awareness, explains how Facebook and Google harvest users’ personal data, by tracking daily activities, steps, searches, watched videos and every single click made through Google accounts.
According to the article, from the very first time you sign in a Google account on your device, Google tracks your location, microphone, applications, and browsing and search histories- which includes deleted data, and much more than you ever thought.
The article explains in further detail how Google tracks your data and the ways in which you can check your personal archive on Google. Here are the most significant ways of tracking and how to see what has been logged so far:
If your device has location settings turned on, it has been probably saving every single place you ever visited with your device at hand. Google gives you timeline of places you visited and the routes you have taken to get there. Here you can check your saved locations and tracks on Google: Location
All the searches you ever made on a device using your Google account were saved, even the deleted history and your phone history.
Here you can check your saved data on Google:
An advertisement profile is created by Google for you, based on your personal information, interests, relationship status, age and any data it has about you.
Here you can check your advertisement profile on Google:
Every application or extension you ever used on your devices is saved on Google. According to the article, as Google saves all your apps’ data, it knows who you talk to on Facebook, the countries that you are contacting, and what time you go to sleep.
Here you can check your apps’ profile on Google: Applications
All your Youtube watch history, search, comments and community are saved by Google. However, if you are pausing your watch history, you will find your history empty.
Here you can see you Youtube saved data: Youtube
Not only this, Google Takeout also saves your Google Calendar data, your Google Drive files even the deleted ones, your workout routine through Google Fit, all the photos that were taken by your device and all the emails you sent.
Additionally, Google helps you export a copy of your archived data, where you can choose the type of data you want to include in your records that will be available only for you.
Here you can check: Takeout
You are probably having second thoughts about using your Google accounts and devices, but did you know that Facebook saves your personal information too?
The social media giant seems to be following in the steps of Google as it saves lots of information related to you. It also offers a choice to download all your information, including all data ever sent or received or uploaded. Here you can see how can you get your data copy: