Most of us probably have this nagging feeling that all the fun and convenience that we get online and take for granted should be paid for somehow. We are aware that companies such as Facebook and Google collect our data, which are used to target us for advertising better. So what? We can ignore the ads anyway, can’t we? We have nothing to hide, you would say.
However, it goes much deeper than that. The Cambridge Analytica Scandal might prove to be the catalyst, the event which finally wakes us up to all the ways that people can be manipulated, duped and held to ransom for the amount of data that’s held about them. The scandal has opened the door for a broader discussion about data collection and its nefarious uses, and it’s leading many people to confront several uncomfortable truths.Irish IT expert Dylan Curran began a Twitter thread recently, which became viral: he exposed the extent of Facebook and Google’s Data archives of him. “The Facebook archive was 600mb, roughly 400,000 Word documents,” he wrote in New Statesman. “The Google archive was 5.5gb, roughly 3m Word documents.”
That’s a shitload of data. Facebook’s dump includes all of our sent and received messages, login locations, as well as even non-Facebook-related texts and phone call history. Facebook is the “drug addicts of data squeezing every last drop from the needle before they move on to the next one,” said Curran.
Google seems to go even further than that. They keep track of everything, even our searches, and emails that we’ve deleted. In fact, they almost certainly know more about us than we do ourselves.
This data can be used against us in countless ways. While we might think we have nothing to hide, do we want somebody reading our messages and emails? Looking at our photos and videos? Knowing exactly where we were at specific times?
Edward Snowden called it “an exquisite breakdown using real-life examples of how @Facebook and @Google exploited your trust to quietly create a decade-long dossier of your most private activities. With a bonus: how to download a copy of your own.”