Recently, a friend told me he left his TV on a Spanish language station and he started getting Facebook ads about tacos and other Hispanic delicacies. He likes tacos but uninstalled Facebook Messenger.
Facebook, and other companies, have long been accused of using our phones' cameras, mics and hidden DNA sequencers for nefarious purposes. Facebook tried to quash the rumor in a statement June 2 that said it
"does not use your phone's microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed."
Some companies seem really intent on spying as much as possible. Amazon, a company I trust with my personal info, created a device --
-- which, unlike your significant other, is always listening. Keep that one out of the bedroom.
You may not know this but Google logs your movements and keeps a recording of your voice when you use a microphone to use its products. Since Google provides useful tools that make my life easier I put up with it. Using Google software I can type up something at home and it is available anywhere I go.
I can plop a map pin down where I buried a secret treasure and months later know exactly where to lead authorities if I get caught.
Still, I was a bit startled when I checked out exactly how much info Google was storing. You may be freaked out too if you visit
, enter your password and listen to your former self say "directions to DeKalb marriage license office."
Less alarming is Google's map, which indicates I have not left the friendly confines of Georgia, Alabama and Florida in a long time. Anything north of Memphis probably isn't worth visiting.
Google even provides a list of places I frequent. Home is No. 1, followed by work and a bar. That makes sense. Turner Field is 7th, but due to the quality of the team may drop out of the Top 10 shortly. A hot dog joint is higher on the list than my heart would like.
How often do I use Google? A lot. I search for something 66 times per day and I most frequently visit Wikipedia, StackOverflow, AJC.com, Amazon and Reddit.
Google shows me what info it has stored and lets me delete it. I'm assuming Apple does the same thing.
We pay the government a lot of money to spy on us too, but I doubt they'd let us see what kind of info they are collecting. I know they won't let us delete it.
And that's OK. In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes and the proliferation of privacy-stealing smartphone apps.