What Google/Amazon/Facebook/ know about you – and what to do about it

Axios has a very interesting series of articles illustrating what major online service providers know about you.  They include the following, so far:

Here’s a brief excerpt from the first article, to whet your appetite.

Depending on how much you shop, watch and read with Amazon, the e-commerce behemoth may know more about you than any other company on earth.

The big picture: Naturally, they know what you’ve browsed or bought on their main service. They also know what you’ve asked Alexa, watched on Prime, and read on your Kindle. They know even more thanks to their ownership of Whole Foods, Ring, Eero, Twitch, Goodreads, IMDB and Audible.

Details: As with Google or Facebook, what Amazon knows depend on how much you rely on its services. That said, these days Amazon’s services are all around us. Here are some of the different types of information gathered by various Amazon services.

  • Amazon.com: Everything you have bought, plus the things you have just put in your cart, or searched for, or added to a wish list, or just browsed on Amazon (and Amazon-owned sites like Zappos and Diapers.com). And they know all of your addresses and the names and addresses of anyone you’ve ever sent stuff to.
  • Kindle (digital books) and Audible (audio books): All the books you’ve read, plus how far into the book you got. Amazon also knows which books you have browsed or sampled, and what passages you’ve highlighted in Kindle.
  • Ring (smart doorbells and security gear): For customers with a paid recording plan, Amazon stores videos for 30 to 120 days depending on location, or until a customer manually deletes the video. Recordings for those who don’t subscribe to a plan are deleted automatically unless a customer posts a video to the publicly available Neighbors app.
  • Whole Foods (grocery store): Now that Amazon owns the upscale supermarket, if you shop here Amazon knows your grocery list, too. Whole Foods already offers deals to Prime members, linking the purchases of its best online customers with those buying offline.

There’s more at the link.

The entire series of articles is worth reading, particularly if you (like me) are concerned about the loss of privacy we’ve seen over recent decades.  There are also suggestions as to how to minimize the records such companies keep on you, particularly Internet data aggregators and search engines.  See the fourth article linked above for more information.

As for Amazon and its head honcho, Jeff Bezos, comic strip artist Stephan Pastis is currently dealing with both of them, and their threat to privacy, in amusing fashion.  (Click the image to be taken to a larger version at the comic’s Web site.)


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