You have invited your friends, your partner or your family to spend the afternoon at home. You are having quite a normal conversation in the living room. When the night comes, the guests leave and you relax on the sofa, you take your smartphone and start checking the latest posts on your favorite social network such as Twitter or Instagram. Suddenly, boom! An ad appears and your face turns pale. The advert is related to the conversation you had in the afternoon. You wonder, Is it a coincidence? Are they listening? I’m sure that this or other similar situations have happened to you more than once. But, is this real? I can tell you that the answer is yes. If you’re starting to feel fear, keep calm, in this story we’re going to explore and crack this mystery.

What do big companies know about me?

At this point, I’m sure you’re asking yourself: What do they know about me? As I mentioned in my first article, behind the vast amount of data that is generated every day, some companies try to find high-value diamonds that they can use. Information giants such as Google or Facebook dominate the highest positions in the markets because, among other things, they use the knowledge obtained to offer new valued services to their users and clients. So we will focus on analyzing how much these two companies know about us.

  • Health & wellness
  • American football
  • Travel
  • Photography
  • Consumer electronics
  • Beaches
  • Cameras
  • Magazines
  • Investing

How can they do it?

As I’ve already mentioned, ad personalization is done based on the information these companies have about you. These data can be obtained mainly from these two sources:

  • Data offered by third parties.
    On the other hand, focusing just on the “mobile” world, data-driven companies often develop and make SDKs (Software Development Kits), called trackers, available to application developers, which allows them to capture and send data to their servers. SDKs are pieces of code that application developers can easily introduce into their applications. These pieces of code are set up to track your activity whether you’re in or out of the app. We could say that a tracker is a next-generation cookie.

The exodus project

I would like to introduce the Exodus project. Exodus analyzes Android applications looking for embedded trackers inside. Then, they build a report with a list of all of those trackers and the permissions that of the application needs. You can browse for a report of any Android application on this link. They also have an application you can install on your Android device. I suggest you search for some of the applications you’ve installed and think if they need the permissions they’re requesting.

Restorative, entrepreneur, strategic, and futurist. Engineer with a technological background who love business, finance, and strategy.

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