The worst things Amazon, Uber, and Facebook did with your data without your permission



Companies like Uber, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Snapchat, and Google have an insane amount of data on us. Many of these companies offer a portion of their service for free to its users - like Google's search engine or Facebook. Quick tip - nothing is free. On the backend, the companies are actually matching millions of data points and leveraging your data to other businesses. Sometimes these companies take it a step too far.


In 2012 users of Linkedin awoke to their entire calendar uploaded on the social media site for anyone to see. Not only were the calendar entries uploaded but all the notes that were associated with the entries as well. Linkedin publicly apologized; however, they did mention the users opted in when Linkedin asked if they can access their calendar. Users didn't think the largest professional networking site would go as far as uploading your calendar though! They soon stopped uploading information from the "meeting notes" section of a user's calendar.


In 2012 Uber released a blog post detailing how they were able to see if users of the app were getting laid. This isn't a joke. Depending on when users would call an Uber and where they would be dropped off Uber was able to measure who was, well, let's just say busy.


Like Amazon who, back in 2009, removed the book Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell from Kindle after they "mistakenly published" it. Ironically enough - the book is set in Great Britain whose residents are victims of an omnipresent government surveillance and public manipulation. Awkward.


In 2014 Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg apologized for manipulating the news feed of over 650,000 users. The experiment was to split the sample into two groups. One sample is exposed to negative content for a week and the other sample would be exposed to positive content for the week. The goal was to see if these users would then post negative or positive content. Facebook never gave its users permission to expose them to sad and harmful news but they did it anyway. I mean, it's pretty messed up to intentionally negatively alter someone's emotion for testing? To take it a step further - in 2017 Facebook told advertisers that they can accurately identify when a user is feeling "defeated", "stressed", "overwhelmed", "stupid", "silly", "useless", and a "failure." Can you imagine how easy it is for Facebook to sell marketers of - say - an antidepressant drug to advertise on Facebook? They can target a depressed user. Which - actually might save a life? Ok, there is an argument.


In 2010 Google admitted to intercepting data on home encrypted Wi-Fi networks using the Google street view car. Google openly said they had no intentions of collecting this data and as soon as they found out what was going on they stopped the project. It was later discovered that the engineers at the company transferred the data to a storage unit in Oregon. Google attempted to suppress the bad press by asking the FCC to take down the damaging information about Google in its report.


Have you ever noticed after having a face-to-face conversation with someone about a new laundry detergent you all the sudden start seeing ads about it on your feeds? Maybe not - this is more of a conspiracy. Google('Hey Google'), Apple('Hey Siri'), Amazon('Alexa'), and Microsoft have faced accusations that their voice-activated personal assistants are listening in on people's conversations and storing it. These companies have collectively denied these allegations, but we'll see what the future holds.