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Creepy Ways Tech Companies Have Used Misused The Data They Collect

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user data privacy

We are all very much aware that tech companies, both big and small, collect user data for various reasons. The most basic reason is, “to improve the services offered”. To some extent, this is actually true and we have seen companies make very good use of the data they collect to better their services.

However, once in a while, these same companies surprise us with crazy ways that they have used that data, mostly behind our backs. Ranging from real cringy stuff to downright unnecessary stuff, here are some of the ways tech companies have misused the data they collect:

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Google Sent The Wrong Videos To Strangers

Google admitted to sending videos to the wrong users after their Google Photos service that allows users to download their data suffered a technical issue.

According to Google, the incident occurred between November 21st and 25th 2019 and only affected a few users but the level of fuckery that happened is beyond excusable.

According to the email that they sent to affected users, Google says that some users may have received videos that don’t belong to them when they chose to download their data. Yikes.

And what did Google have to say about this, “We are very sorry this happened”.

Facebook Asked Users For Nudes

Uhm, yup. In an effort to combat revenge porn on the platform, Facebook asked its users to send them their nudes. Revenge porn is an unethical practise where someone leaks your nudes as a way of getting back at you –  it’s in the name.

To help fight this vice, Facebook asked users to share their nudes with them. The social media giant would then create a digital print of your nudes and use that to prevent any attempts by anyone to re-upload that same image on its platforms.

Facebook Asking Sex Workers To Add Their Clients As Friends

The people you may know feature on Facebook is one that’s surrounded by a lot of mystery. The company doesn’t exactly share how this feature works but what we know is that it can get really creepy.

Back in 2017, Facebook offered a number of friend suggestions to a user, suggestions that left her in awe. The said user was a sex worker but one that had worked really hard to separate her actual identity from her work life to the extent of using fake names.

It’s a long story but to make it short, despite all precautions, Facebook somehow put two and two together and started suggesting her clients to her as people she may know. The biggest problem to her was that Facebook was also suggesting her to her clients as someone they may know which inevitably puts her at risk.

Uber’s Rides of Glory

This one is as funny as it is weird. It’s obvious that Uber tracks your location but who would have thought that they would have used this information to predict whether you had a one-night stand.

Back in 2014, the ride-hailing company released a report that showed the company had figured out how to tell if someone had a one-night stand. How? If you request a ride between 10 pm and 4 am on a Friday or Saturday then got picked up from the location after a few hours.

Of course, this metric is flawed, there could other reason one would be in a place at night for only a few hours – like to pray but the question here is, how did Uber think this was a good idea?

System That Records Student’s Deleted Answers

With the world moving towards automation of everything, online exams have become a thing. However, there’s now a twist to that. A platform branded Base Education keeps a record of students answers even if they change that answer and presents this to the evaluator.

According to the company, this could help in counselling sessions as it would show the real thoughts a student has before submitting a final answer, however, it presents a problem if the same software is used to administer exams.

Bonus – Track Church Attendants

Uhm, I’ll keep this short. There’s software available that uses facial recognition to track church attendants. The software then gives insights such as frequent members and those who have been missing church.

What’s the most bizarre thing a tech company has done with user data that you know of?

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