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Facebook Is Not The Only Company Watching You

Facebook is under fire due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which an app called “thisisyourdigitalife” shared the private information of over 50 million people. But Facebook isn’t the only company that’s had trouble with authorities over breaches of privacy. In fact, it joins a long list of scandals where lax security measures resulted in private information being accessed by third parties.

A story published in 2014 claimed that Uber employees used the God View tool to spy on customers, including politicians, ex-partners, and obviously Beyonce. Uber got in trouble with the FCC and allegedly fired the employees responsible, while also abandoning the God View tool for good. Still, it’s shocking that this scandal didn’t affect Uber’s business in more notorious ways.

Niantic, the company that created Pokemon Go, faced criticism over their privacy policy. The game required uninterrupted access to your phone’s camera and location, and conspiracy theorists claimed that the game could be used for spying purposes. That sounds outrageous because it’s just a Pokemon game, except that Niantic’s privacy policy is creepy, stating that once you download the game, the company can store and collect your private information. Why? No one knows.

Mashable reports that these breaches of privacy keep happening because your data is worth money. According to a study, more than 70 percent of smartphone apps are reporting your personal data to companies such as Google Analytics and Facebook graph API. 

All of this is legal, because you have to accept to the app’s privacy policy before you can download it and use it. This is not a bad thing; this information is necessary for the apps to work properly and for them to do their job. But it also means that if the company is hacked – a phenomenon that’s occurring more and more often – or if they have ulterior motives, like Cambridge Analytica, you’ll pay the price. 

So you know, don’t hate on Facebook for spying on you. Or don’t hate on them exclusively, since dozens of apps are doing the same thing. Be wary of social media and always read the privacy policy of the apps you download. Not to be too paranoid, but it’s a scary world out there.

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