Forget 1984, big tech companies are already collecting data about you in ways that even George Orwell could never have envisaged.

You probably already know that everything you do online is being tracked, recorded and monetized. But it’s worse than you think:

Much worse.

Big tech companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Twitter are collecting information about you and your habits on a scale that even the most dystopian sci-fi writers would struggle to comprehend.

The current techniques go way beyond just tracking you. Big tech companies now routinely store everything from your health data to your social media behavior and sell it to the highest bidder to make better-targeted ads. So, if you’ve ever wondered how your information is being used and sold, get ready to jump down the rabbit hole.

Here are 25 creepy things big tech companies know about you right now.

#1. Voice Data
Which companies:
Amazon, Microsoft

No, we’re not talking about the widely held belief that Facebook can eavesdrop on your phone calls. As demonstrated by the NewStatesman, that’s still a myth, as far as we know, and apps don’t have access to your voice data.

But if you’ve ever used an Xbox, Google home or Amazon Alexa to buy things or access information, you’d better believe that there’s a recording of your voice on the company’s servers.

In an interview with VICE, Dr. Peter Hannay, cybersecurity firm Asterisk’s senior security consultant, said that these recordings shouldn’t be something that most people worry about.

#2. Gaming Interactive Data
Which company: Microsoft

According to Inc., Microsoft regularly collects skeletal tracking data from users who have a Kinect camera. Microsoft also tracks buttons pressed while using Xbox Live, its online gaming service for Xbox owners.

#3. Information About the Things Near Your Device
Which companies: Google and Microsoft

Most of us are well attuned to the dangers of our devices collecting our data, something that big tech companies vehemently deny. But what if we’re looking in the wrong places?

Using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, companies such as Google and Microsoft can collect information about the things near your device, such as which devices your phone is connected to via Bluetooth. This can help them build a general picture of your habits and lifestyle, and this improves their targeted ads.

#4. The Devices You Use
Which companies: Android, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Amazon, Microsoft

Understandably, big tech companies are fairly interested in which devices you use to go online. This helps them put out media in the most suitable formats to make content and ads work better on your devices.

Notably, Apple only tracks Apple device purchases and maintenance. This makes it not the best, just the least worse.

#5. What you’ve hidden from your newsfeed
Which company: Facebook

Almost all social media platforms are interested in learning which types of posts annoy you. This is helpful as it protects you from harmful content. If many people hide posts from a certain page, this data helps the companies flag up potentially concerning pages.

#6. Ads you’ve clicked
Which companies:
Google, Facebook, Amazon, Bing

Companies generate substantial revenue from ads, so they store data about which ads you click on. They track the clicks as well as the format and ad copy that generated the interest, helping them to make better ads.

#7. Your health and fitness data
Which company:
Microsoft

Fitness trackers such as step counters are increasingly popular, so it should come as no surprise that your health and fitness data is sometimes uploaded.

This lets companies know about your exercise routine, health habits and how health conscious you are.

Of particular note is Microsoft, which collects HealthVault data and stores data about everything from your heart rate to the number of steps you’ve taken every day.

#8. Your music, books, and games
Which company:
Apple

For obvious reasons, Apple stores your iTunes downloads as well as iTunes Match uploads and downloads. But fewer people are aware that it also stores your book choices and meta information from gaming sessions via Game Center. This helps it better decide which apps you may be interested in.

#9. Your purchase history
Which companies:
Apple, Amazon, Microsft

Big tech companies store your transaction history and know exactly how much you’ve spent. This data is used to advertise products you may be interested in, based on your spending habits.

#10. Your documents
Which companies: Google and Microsoft

Google Drive and Microsoft’s One Drive both offer impressive amounts of free cloud storage. However, few people realize exactly what they’re signing up for. Microsoft stores the metadata of any document you store in the cloud even after you delete it.

#11. Your social media behavior
Which companies:
Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon

To be fair, this one shouldn’t come as much of surprise. Everything you like, comment on, follow or share are kept in your account’s history.

What may make you slightly uneasy is the way that big tech companies sell your data to help create targeted ads. Facebook, Twitter, and Bing store your likes, while Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon store your status updates, posts and photo uploads. This data helps them generate better-targeted ads for companies that advertise on their platforms.

#12. Your browsing history
Which companies:
Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Bing

Most people are familiar with the way that big tech companies routinely store your search history so they can see what you’re interested in and where you usually go at certain times.

But did you know that Google still remembers what websites you visited, even after you delete your browser history? Every time you search for something on Google (or other search engines) the search query gets stored. This helps them improve search results but the data is also sold to help create more effective ads.

#13. The media you consume
Which companies:
YouTube, Twitter, Amazon, and Microsoft

It comes as a bit of a shock for most people to discover just how much data big tech companies store about the media they consume. Everything from the music you listen to, to the games you play and the videos you watch on YouTube is stored.

You might think: “So what?”

But your media preferences say a lot about you and are very valuable to tech companies. They can use this data to help advertisers target you with relevant ads that you may be interested in.

#14. Your calendar events
Which companies:
Google, Facebook, and Microsoft

Most of us are happy with big tech companies storing our calendar data; it helps us stay organized and remember key events.

But what if we told you that data regarding those events is stored even after the events have finished? For example, Facebook records both events you’ve joined and events you’ve been invited to.

Pretty creepy, right?

Many people would never assume that this data has any value but it’s useful for companies to figure out how busy you are, how you spend your time and how organized you are.

#15. Your communications
Which companies:
Google, Facebook, and Microsoft

Most big tech companies archive your messages or online calls in some way. Facebook Messenger stores your chat history, and Skype stores your call history, for instance.

#16. Your IP address
Which companies:
Google, Microsoft

Every device you use to connect to the internet has its own Internet Protocol (IP) address. Your IP address makes it easy to track your online activity. It can even lead to your device being hacked if you’re not careful.

#17. Your financial and banking info
Which companies:
Apple, Microsoft

Be careful about which online stores store your credit card number; your financial information can be dug up if you aren’t careful.

In 2015, Apple filed a patent for an app that could read iOS users’ bank balances. According to the patent, this information could be sold to advertised who were interested in targeting users from specific income brackets.

#18. Your facial recognition data
Which companies:
Facebook, Microsoft

Casinos have been using facial recognition data for years but it’s only since Apple introduced Face ID as a biometric security solution that the tech really took off.

At present, big tech companies storing this data is of little concern, but the Chinese government is already tapping into biometrics for public surveillance systems, showing where this technology could be heading in the future.

#19. Your political and religious beliefs
Which company:
Facebook

Facebook collects data about your political leanings and religious beliefs.

#20. Your ethnicity
Which company:
Facebook

Many big tech companies, especially Facebook, store data about your race and/or ethnicity. Google, however, assure us that they “don’t show you personalized ads based on sensitive categories such as race, religion, sexual orientation or health”. Hopefully, that makes you feel a little better…

#21. Your educational background
Which companies:
Google, Facebook

Many companies are keen on tracking your education level. This valuable data correlates to your income and can be sold to advertisers who are keen to target users in certain income brackets.

#22. Your income and work status
Which company:
Facebook

Like your education level, your level of income and work status will determine which ads you see.

#23. Your relationship status
Which company:
Facebook

Surprisingly, even your relationship status can be monetized. When advertisers sign up for Facebook ads, they can choose to target ‘single’, ‘engaged’ or ‘recently married’ people depending on what products or services they want to market.

For instance, recently married people may be interested in baby products and furniture.

Newly engaged people may see ads related to weddings.

#24. Your address and location
Which companies:
Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Amazon and Microsoft

Almost all big tech companies store location tracking data from your mobile device. This is sold to marketers looking to target customers in specific geographic areas.

#25. Your personal information
Which companies:
Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft

Most tech companies store your personal information and they sell this data to help create targeted ads.

Closing thoughts
Hopefully, this hasn’t freaked you out too much. The good news is that data privacy is improving for consumers. Thanks to public scandals such as Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica fiasco and the massive data exposure, big tech companies are cleaning up their acts.

As you may have heard, Google is closing its Google + service and is conducting an internal investigation, Project Strobe, to help identify areas that need tighter privacy controls.

In the meantime, if you have a Google + account and want to scare yourself, download all your Google + data and see just how much they know about you.

Then ask yourself: “What about my other accounts?”

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