What do Facebook, Google and Yahoo! know?Use their online tools to find out

26 April 2011


What do Facebook, Google and Yahoo! really know about you? And just how easy is it to get these companies to reveal that information? Which? Computing went undercover to find out.

Using Which? editor Martyn Hocking was our guinea pig, we started our investigation by deploying the online tools from these three companies, which they allege can help consumers reclaim their data.

Using the Google Dashboard, Facebook’s Applications Settings Dashboard and Yahoo!’s Ad Interest Manager, we found these tools were able to give us with enough information to work out what data these companies had about Martyn.

But we were surprised to find out just how much data these companies had about him, and just how much of it they were not prepared to give us. 

Find out how to protect yourself online in our guide, including how to keep sensitive information safe and protect yourself from scams, viruses and spam attacks. 

We concluded that Facebook, Google and Yahoo!’s online tools are a step in the right direction, but there’s still a long way to go.

Georgina Nelson, a senior Which? in-house lawyer, said: ‘Credit to them for moving towards, albeit sometimes selective, transparency. However, transparency about collection is just a start.

‘These tools could do more to address why they’re collecting vast amounts of data, what it’s used for, who they’re sharing it with, how long it’s kept – and how you can control these aspects. That really would be something to get excited about.’

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