The classic novel 1984 could easily be renamed 2022: A Documentary. Invasive, high-tech tracking is no longer the stuff of science fiction, it is a daily reality.
Why are big companies so desperate to track, gather info, or even predict our every move? Their goal is to trick us into giving them our info in exchange for their “free” services.
History shows the most valuable commodities are always either given away by the unwary or taken from the unprepared. In 2022, information is that commodity.
Big companies want your data and will do nearly anything to get you to part with it. They want information about you so they can sell it or convince you to part with your money willingly.
We are doing all we can to prepare for an uncertain future, but we have to be aware and stop the techno-tracking taking place. When we know who is doing the tracking, as well as how and why they are tracking us, we can take action against them.
Let’s examine how apps get information from us and determine which apps are the worst offenders. Specifically, we’ll examine the 5 apps that know the most about you.
How Do These Apps Get Your Information?
Big tech firms provide their apps at no cost.
Apps are free because they harvest your data as a fee for the use of the app.
When you download an app, you are told what information the app will harvest in countless pages of lawyer-speak.
Almost invariably, without giving them permission to harvest data, you cannot use the app.
Some types of data apps harvest include: contacts, search history, financial info, face and voice recognition, location, pets, hobbies, and weight and height.
Why Companies Sell Data
52% of companies sell the data they collect. Companies sell this harvested data because other companies want to know what potential customers think and can optimize their marketing to get you to purchase their product.
For example, if you have your favorite coffee company’s app on your phone and a local grocer nearby knows that people in the community often shop after getting coffee, they will buy your data from the coffee company.
This data will let them know when you are most frequently getting coffee, your financial info, location data, and your email address. Then, on the day you’re most likely to buy coffee, they will email you coupons for products in hopes of luring you into their grocery store.
Using Data To Teach A Computer
Machine learning is a complex technology leveraged against us. 80% of apps use your data to market their own products in the app by utilizing machine learning.
Via machine learning, a program is fed information about us in an attempt to accurately predict the decisions we will make. The more information it has, the more accurate the predictions.
Perhaps you’ve been thinking about buying a product and the next thing you know, you see the product in an ad on an app or web browser.
The advertisers aren’t reading your mind; they just have enough of your data to predict what you want to buy and when you want to buy it.
Many of us use this app to connect with others and purchase goods at reasonable prices.
While useful, do not conclude that this app is innocuous and harmless.
It collects over 20% of all the data it legally can.
Frequently, apps request your location data, even when not in use. However, OfferUp will not allow you to use their app without giving them your address.
Netflix is where millions get their entertainment on a daily basis.
Unlike most of the apps on this list, it is a paid service.
Even though you pay to use it, they still collect a ton of data about you, including your voice for recognition services.
Netflix collects nearly 27% of all the data they legally can.
They claim to use your data to improve your experience and provide more customized recommendations. However, the truth is that they disclose or share personal information with other companies, agents, or contractors.
YouTube And Google Maps
These two apps are part of the same company so they are lined up together in our ranking.
Every time you search for a video on YouTube, 42% of your personal data is sent elsewhere. This data goes on to determine the types of advertisements you’ll see before and during videos.
Both of these apps collect about 23% of all available data which includes information about your location and hobbies.
One especially dystopian aspect of Google Maps is that it uses image recognition while tracking your location.
Related: 5 Maps You Should Have At Home
These two apps know you better than you know yourself.
There is a tie for the number 1 spot of the apps that know everything about you and the reason is they are both operated by the same company, Meta.
Facebook collects 79.49% and Instagram collects over 69% of all the legally accessible data they can get their hands on.
Meta has some of the most powerful algorithms in the world when it comes to customizing engagement, aka – they know how to get and keep your attention.
Therefore, they are also some of the most frequently used apps based on daily usage.
The 5 Apps That Know Everything About You Are Only The Tip Of The Iceberg
While these 5 notable apps collect all the information they can about you, there are countless other apps that collect 10-28% of available information about you and use it in all sorts of ways.
Chances are, many of them are on your phone right now.
What Can You Do To Protect Yourself From Data Harvesting?
Well, you’ve already taken step one which is figuring out who, how, and why your data is being harvested. Ideally, research every app you have on your phone or are thinking about downloading and determine how much data it is collecting on you.
The next step is to delete as many of these invasive apps as possible. There are plenty of ways to connect with friends, share private information, and enjoy entertainment that does not involve becoming a commodity for greedy companies to profit from.
In the surveillance world that we live in, the only apps that don’t track you are the ones you don’t install on your device.