Sunday, 1st October 2023

What does big tech know about you?

Facebook has been around for more than a decade, and it has completely changed the way we interact online.

Facebook’s logo at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York’s Times Square.(Richard Drew / Associated Press

Facebook has been around for more than a decade, and it has completely changed the way we interact online. What started as an easier means of communication with people has slowly turned into a huge company that generates heaps of data every day.

After Zuckerberg’s hearing in front of the US Senate, and the massive data leaks across many different big tech companies, people started questioning their real agenda. If you want to know what exactly big tech knows about you, the answer is simple – mostly everything. So, stay with us, and we’ll tell you how to protect yourself online.

Privacy Policies Are Everything but Private
Every time you visit a website or download a video game, you have to read the Terms and Conditions and the Privacy Policy. Unfortunately, most of us don’t, and we simply leave a tick at the bottom of the page and continue doing what we were doing. That’s where the main issue starts.

Big tech companies, including Facebook, Apple, Google, Twitter, Amazon, Microsoft, and many others collect all kinds of data from their users. Of course, they don’t gather all personal data, but they do collect some details they view as valuable. Facebook and Google are the leading data collectors, as they have access to all kinds of personal data people leave behind. That includes your phone number, email, location, type of devices you use, and so on.

After collecting data on over 1 billion users, Facebook was caught leaking some of the information to government officials and other big tech companies. They also use the data for ad targeting, but the line between spying on users and providing a better overall targeting quality is very thin. When you combine the other information gathered by websites such as Google, Microsoft, and so on, big data is able to put the details together and learn everything there is about you.

The information gathered includes details about your gender, birthday, relationship status, education, race, physical address, contacts, your government ID, credit card information, and everything in between.

People Continue Sacrificing Their Privacy

Even though the world learned about how big tech works and what details they learn about users, most people don’t believe they can do anything about it. Instead, the vast majority of the population simply says that they don’t have anything to hide, while those who do stay away from social media networks.

The US government made some changes to the privacy rules and data collection, but big tech always finds new ways to work around the bans. For example, Google is testing a new FLoC technology for better ad targeting without third-party cookies. That might seem like a step forward, but it’s really a huge step backward, as Google did not introduce a strategy for preserving users’ privacy.

What Can You Do?

The fuss about online privacy has got people worried, as they don’t want websites to share their personal information with other companies. Thus, the rising need to fight personal data collection has led to the creation of new technologies that prevent online tracking.

Most people use the internet to find the information they need and stay in touch with friends and family. Those who want to make sure that they are not being tracked can download a VPN, such as Atlas VPN, to hide their real location and online activities. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and it basically helps you protect your web traffic and personal data from the rest of the internet.

The need for services like these keeps growing every year because of the many data leaks and data misuses that keep repeating themselves. It’s always better to stay safe than sorry. Thus, it is understandable why DuckDuckGo clientele keeps growing. The same applies to other privacy-focused services. While they are not perfect, they are better than the more invasive alternatives.

The Bottom Line

The truth is that you can’t stop big tech from collecting your personal data. Of course, you can reject and delete third-party cookies, but they have other secretive ways of getting your data. Thus, it becomes essential to know exactly how companies deal with your data. For instance, most apps should have an option for opting out of having your data shared with third parties. Always ensure to mark this setting.