Big Brother is in your pocket | Columns

My dad gave me a lot of advice during my formative years.

So many tips and words to follow that I probably credit it with some things I learned from others.

Perhaps the best lesson was this: “I am an old man. And I can tell you that 95% of the things I was worried about never even happened. So don’t waste your life worrying about things.

Even though I always feel preoccupied with things over the years, his words turned out to be a great plan for not worrying too much about “what might be”.

And then this week I went down a rabbit hole on the internet that revealed to me just how much “private” information Google, Facebook and others collect about us on a daily basis.

If you’re one of the millions of people in this country who have a smartphone, that’s downright scary.

That might make a man a little worried, actually.

So, keeping with the idea that misery loves company, let me share some of that with you.

Warning, if you are prone to panic disorders, it might be best to move on, laugh nervously and forget about this column altogether.

Google stores your location (if you have location tracking enabled) each time you turn on your phone. You (gasp, or someone grabbing your phone) can see a timeline of where you’ve been since the very first day you started using Google on your phone.

Google knows everything you’ve ever searched for, even searches you’ve deleted. And this information is stored on all your devices.

Google has an advertising profile about you – including your location, gender, age, hobbies, career, interests, relationship status, and income.

Google has all your YouTube history.

Google knows all the apps you use. They know how often you use them and who you use them to interact with. This means they know who you’re talking to on Facebook, even what time you go to bed.

The total information Google has on an average user would fill 3 million MS Word documents.


Speaking of Facebook, they store around 400,000 MS Word documents on each of us.

This includes every “personal” message you’ve sent or received, every file, every contact on your phone, etc.

Facebook also stores everything from posts you’ve “liked” with each corresponding emoticon, all the apps you’ve connected to Facebook, and anything you might be interested in, based on things you’ve liked and what your friends tell you. talk.

It’s getting better.

Facebook can also track where you are, what apps you have installed, when you use them, and they can even access your webcam and microphone ANYTIME.

They have access to your contacts, your emails, your calendar, your call history, the messages you send and receive, the files you download, your photos and videos, your search history, etc.

It’s crazy to think about the Ray Bradbury novels I read in school and how it all fits together.

As one author online pointed out, we would never let the government or any corporation put cameras/microphones in our homes or track our locations.

But we went ahead and did everything for them – because we love watching cute cat and puppy videos.

Lord help us all.

I know my dad told me not to worry.

But this warning came from a guy who never had a smartphone or a Facebook account.

JT Strasner is the editor of the Port Lavaca Wave. Contact him at [email protected]

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