Technology Spying on You?

Facebook not only app barging into your life

Data brokers have been selling your personal information for years, but there are steps you can take to avoid some intrusion.

Data brokers have been selling your personal information for years, but there are steps you can take to avoid some intrusion.

Emily Lemerand, Writer

For years rumors have floated around saying that Facebook has been spying on its users. Turns out, it is not just Facebook. Thousands of other apps and websites have been collecting data about its users’ personality traits, relationship status, sexual orientation, political beliefs, illegal interactions, and even users’ income or restaurants frequently eaten at.

According to, when advertisers create an ad on Facebook, they are allowed to select who they want this ad to reach. For example, an advertiser can select certain age groups, certain sports, events, places, or any other parameters. Don’t be surprised when a newly engaged couple are receiving ads about wedding venues or planning ideas. Also, any ad that is clicked on will generate similar ads to be placed on a user’s page.

“There are 2,500 to 4,000 data brokers in the United States whose business is buying and selling our personal data,” stated Bruce Schneier, a writer for CNN News. Schneier continued by saying that in 2017, hackers stole the personal information of nearly 150 million internet users. This information included Social Security numbers, birth information, addresses, driver’s license numbers, and other private information.

“A much greater and more immediate threat to your privacy is coming from thousands of companies you’ve probably never heard of, in the name of commerce,” stated Steve Kroft, a reporter for CBS News. They’re known as data brokers. These people are searching, collecting, and selling extremely private information to other data brokers, advertisers, and the government. Even though this began before the internet, it has become easier and potentially more dangerous because more information is being put online without knowing or thinking more of it.

According to CNN News, Equifax is one of the many data brokers that sell personal information without users’ knowledge or approval to certain buyers. Also, Facebook and Google have offered services in exchange for personal data. Search engines know everything from hobbies to locations that are searched. Smartphones are allowed to collect data about the apps downloaded, and websites accessed.

According to Kara Brandeisky, a writer on, there is nearly nothing to do, to see, fix, or delete your online profile. She continues by giving tips to protect users: delete cookies, log out of social media while on Safari, check privacy settings, skip store loyalty cards, and have a digital check-up.

“Historically, data brokers don’t do nuance,” stated Caitlyn Renee Miller, a women who had paid $50 to see what a data broker knows about her. She came to the conclusion that they did know a surprising amount, although, nearly half of it was wrong. Her net worth, address, and phone number hasn’t been updated in years.

For years, data brokers have been collecting data that nobody was aware of and throughout the future, the collection of data will continue to grow. As of right now, the information they have is not known as dangerous.