As concern about online privacy continues to grow, many have begun to wonder what the tech companies whose products they use on a daily basis actually know about them. What information are they collecting on us, and how are they using that information?
We probed the privacy policies of 11 of the biggest tech companies in the world to find out exactly what they know about us. See what information social media giants Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok are collecting from their users and the amount of data that rideshare companies Uber and Lyft collect from their riders and drivers.
Do these big tech companies really know everything about you? You might be surprised at just how much information they do know and what they can infer from the data they collect on you.
Big tech companies collect a wide variety of information on their users, which can include personal data such as your name and email address, information on the device you’re using, browsing and search histories, your likes and preferences, videos you watch, purchases you’ve made, and so much more.
One of the more eyebrow-raising pieces of information that a handful of these tech companies collect is facial recognition data. TikTok is currently under fire for storing users’ facial geometry without their knowledge, while Facebook paid $550 million to settle a facial recognition lawsuit earlier this year.
Microsoft and Amazon were also among the small group of companies that were found to collect facial recognition information. Amazon recently announced that they will stop allowing police to use this technology for one year, while Microsoft has never sold this technology to police and won’t until there is a national law in place to regulate it.
Big tech companies use this information to improve the customer experience through monitoring trends, use, and activities within their services, and this information may even be used by the company to develop new services. The data they collect is also used to determine how well their marketing campaigns are performing based on consumer engagement, such as ad clicks or interactions.
Another purpose for tech companies collecting all of this data is to sell it to data service providers, an industry that has grown immensely with so many giant tech companies collecting information on their millions of users.
Many of these big tech companies have had to update their privacy policies in the past year due to the California Consumer Privacy Act. This act was passed by the California state legislature in 2018, and Jan. 1, 2020, was the deadline for tech companies to comply with the new law. While the law only applies to residents of California, it affected all users, as the companies had to do a complete overhaul of their platforms to stay compliant. This law gives users more control over how tech companies use their personal information, and you may now notice a "Do Not Sell My Personal Information” link on these websites.