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Technical consultant and web developer Dylan Curran shared some alarming findings about how much information Facebook and Google store from their users, and the findings included in a Twitter thread he wrote are enough to inspire readers to delete their Facebook, find a new email platform, and maybe even forego using G-Docs.
“Want to freak yourself out?” Curran asked on Twitter on March 24. The thread continues as a viral source of data-sharing panic for users. “I’m gonna show just how much of your information the likes of Facebook and Google store about you without you even realising it.”
Curran shared that Google has the capability to store its users’ location to create a timeline of where they travel, and stores users’ search history on a separate database that remains even if the search history is deleted. Curran’s thread goes into detail about the myriad of other ways Google tracks its users—and luckily, he includes links to everything so readers can quickly access their own Google accounts to turn off permissions for data collection.
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
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
Next Curran dove into the information databases Facebook keeps on its users—which is basically everything, including what stickers users send to their friends.
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
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
Curran also noted just how wild it is that internet users unknowingly allow corporations to have this much data about their lives.
“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,” he wrote.
He also noted how dangerous this information can become when used incorrectly.
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
Curran’s thread has been retweeted over 160,000 times and liked by over 255,000 users.
In the wake of reports that political data firm Cambridge Analytica exploited the personal information of 50 million users, users have become more concerned than ever about how much data the social network collects on its users. Learn how to “poison” data before deleting Facebook and see what happens when users turn off Facebook’s ability to track their data.
Tess Cagle is a reporter who focuses on politics, lifestyle, and streaming entertainment. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman, Damn Joan, and Community Impact Newspaper. She’s also a portrait, events, and live music photographer in Central Texas.