Chapter 2: Data Gathering


By using devices and apps throughout the day — not to mention throughout a lifetime — you generate a lot of dataAs it turns out, there are companies that covet this data, gathering it behind the scenes to analyze, sell, and repurpose it for profit.

But how, exactly, do they gather your data?

Below are five major methods, which I’ve ranked on a subjective scale from “a tiny bit creepy” to “the creepiest.” You might already be familiar with some of these methods, but most of them are kept hush-hush. 

Method 1: Large-Scale Aggregation

Read more here.

tldr; Your activity on any given device or app is aggregated along with data from millions of other users. Corporations use this information to identify large-scale trends across populations. 

Ranking: a tiny bit creepy.

Method 2: Web Analytics

Read more here.

tldr; Your activity on any given website is tracked by the website owner, who uses this data to optimize their site and market to you.

Ranking: somewhat creepy.

Method 3: Terms & Conditions

Read more here.

tldr; Your activity on any given device/app is tracked by the device/app creator, who browses your personal content to optimize their product and market to you. You agreed to this by accepting their Terms & Conditions. 

Ranking: downright creepy.

Method 4: Third-Party Cookies

Read more here.

tldr; Your online activity is tracked across thousands of websites, generating a unique user profile, which advertisers used to market to you and control what else you see online.

Ranking: really creepy.

Method 5: Internet Service Providers

Read more here.

tldr; All your online activity — no matter the device, app, website, or browser — is tracked by your Internet Service Provider, who can share this data with other companies and governments.

Ranking: the creepiest.

Header image by Hopkins from Noun Project.

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