My mom (Hi mom!) isn’t exactly a tech expert. We have the stereotypical boomer parent/millennial child relationship. I help her update her OS and figure out her cable bill, she cautions me about sketchy hackers stealing my identity and warns me not to open strange email attachments.
“Just because you’re paranoid,” she likes to joke in her motherly way, “doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.” I laugh then brush it off.
But mom, I’m here to say: You were right.
The relentlessly unyielding (but highly profitable) personalization of the products and services we use is getting deeper and creepier than ever. This type of data is incredibly valuable, we’re producing a ton of it every day, and it’s all being used to turn us into products. As one Facebook developer famously said: “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.”
Let’s go down this rabbit hole. Start with this neat and medium-scary site, which our friends at Gizmodo flagged, that shows you everything your browser knows about you the second you open it. Here’s another one.
That’s just your browser! Everywhere we go online we’re being tracked. Facebook, which probably knows you better than you know yourself, built its business around figuring you out. Here’s how to see what it knows about you. Google, too, is built on selling you to advertisers. Here’s how to see who it thinks you are.
Twitter? They’re watching that too. Here’s how to stop it.
Your email? Watching it too. Here’s how to stop it.
Your Amazon account? Yep. Here’s how to stop it.
Your general internet browsing? They are watching you. Here’s how to stop it.
Be safe out there. They’re watching.