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The Tech Giants Interpretation of "Private"

Updated: Aug 11, 2022

With the introduction of new GDPR laws and the recent scandals surrounding Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, more and more people are becoming concerned about the data they share online. But tech giants such as Facebook and Twitter remain highly murky about the amount of our data they collect.

Recent BBC research found that the privacy policies and terms and conditions of such sites required a university education to be understood: it’s estimated it would take the average adult 40 minutes to read Apple’s. The research highlighted 9 ways tech giants continue to obtain and use our data whether or not you give permission. Usage ranges from tracking your location to analysing how you are holding your phone (Dating app Tinder has still not revealed why it needs this information). The full BBC article can be found here;

And here’s a summary of – for us as market researchers – three of the more alarming ways:

· Location tracking – Think when you turn off location or refuse location access to an app that they don’t know where you are? Think again. Facebook and Twitter, among others, simply use other non GPS data (IP addresses, check-ins, events attended or the device settings etc) to track you.

· Message scanning – Think private messages are actually private? Think again. LinkedIn uses “automatic scanning technology on messages” while Twitter states that it stores and processes messages to “better understand the use of our services, to protect the safety and integrity of our platform”.

· Facebook tracking – Think when you’re logged out of Facebook that you’re out of their sight? Think again. Using Facebook Business Tools, Facebook obtains details about your online non Facebook activities through advertisers, app developers and publishers. In fact, you don’t even need to have a Facebook account for them to keep tabs on you in this way.


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