Data Harvesting

facebook, amazon, google 

With all the limelight on Facebook with the Cambridge Analytica "scandal" and hearing about how all my data was up for grabs of the highest bidder, I decided to have my own look. What I found will shock you! Just kidding, it probably won't. Seemingly unlike most social media users, I didn't expected that the things I said online were completely private. Even as a high schooler with very little computer security knowledge,  I'd heard the phrase "if you're not paying for the product, you are the product" one too many times to forget. I always went online with the mindset, or at least usually did, that this could all be tied back to me so don't be an a$sh013.
If you're not paying for the product, you are the product
Downloading your facebook data is surprisingly simple. I suspect that is more-so a byproduct of the news than original design. Few clicks in settings and the compilation that is life on facebook starts processing on a server somewhere... The link is emailed to the account owner when it is finished and you receive a nice plain .htm file with essentially your facebook page without all the decorations. Surprisingly easy for anyone to navigate through and surprisingly uninteresting. Was it a bit creepy that "deleted" messages for 2011 were still there? Yes. Was I shocked? No. I even found an old hw file I'd sent to a friend back in high school on there. I'm sure someone smarter than I could make some sort of bot that could analyze this data and say predict who I'd vote for president with, but who would do that?!
Okay so maybe this is not as shocking as the news led me to believe, but it is concerning. Very concerning. The availability of personal data such as this only going to grow worse (worse as in easier to access) in the coming years. There will be a small public backlash when news reports come, but as far as the general, non-"computer savvy" people are concerned this is the cost for convenance. Which, if you're a human from Earth, is like the highest priority.
Say you do want the little bit of privacy back, surely you can just delete facebook or build a time-machine, go back to your account creation, stop yourself, and create a parallel timeline in which you're safe right? Nah, you read the subtitle, you already know where I'm going with this. Google, Amazon, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Linkedin, VK, socialmediahubsite. Yeah, all of them, and anyone you've ever bought something from, and banks, and possibly even your crazy neighbor with the notebook watching from the window. It's crazy how much data we put out into the world every day, let alone all organized and collated through out our whole life.
So I decided to see what they all had on me...


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