While it is pretty obvious that companies collect and store user information on their databases via their online websites and apps, there is a significant debate about whether or not it is right to access and store an individual’s private information without them knowing about it. While users typically have concerns about the privacy of their confidential information such as bank account details and such, there is still a lot of information that they willingly share with these companies that helps the latter in personalizing their marketing campaigns, carrying out targeted researches and entering into strategic partnerships.
While in some cases, the users directly share their information with these apps and websites by filing registration forms and creating their personal profiles, at other times the companies extract information based on the consumer’s online behavior, browser history and such. That being said, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that in some ways Facebook and Google know more about you than you can probably imagine.
So, how exactly do companies collect user data?
As aforementioned, the main motive of the companies behind collecting and retaining user information is to be able to develop, improve and provide their customers with exactly the kind of services or products that they are looking for. Here are some of the most common ways in which companies typically extract user information.
- General Information (such as name, contact number, email id) provided by the users while registering on a website or app or creating a new user profile.
- Financial information such as credit card numbers, billing addresses and such provided by the users while placing an order for a product or service.
- Device specific information of the user that is automatically collected by the company’s online servers including information about the model of the hardware, the mobile network, the unique device identifiers, the version of the operating system and so on.
- Log information of the user that is also automatically collected by the companies. The information might include anything and everything from search queries, internet protocol addresses, system activity to cookies, browser language and type and referral URL.
- Cookies and other identifiers that are recorded when a user interacts with or visits a particular website or app of an online service provider.
Which companies collect user data?
Here is a list of some of the biggest players in the tech world that collect and store user information in their enormous databases and continue to use the information to grow and develop in their target markets.
With a market capital of over $289 billion, Google is one of the strongest companies in the world. That being said, it takes a lot of work for a company to reach unprecedented heights. With north of 105 million active users at any given time, Google tracks and collects a majority of its user information through cookies, device tracking technologies, user profiles, search queries, third parties and more.
The social media giant, Facebook witnesses over 1.1 billion unique visitors every month and is one of the finest examples of how user information can be used to target personalized marketing campaigns. The company extracts user information through search queries, user profiles, device tracking technologies, cookies, double-click, and AdSense and facial recognition software.
A leading online marketplace, Amazon has over 89.9 million unique visitors every month and an impressive market cap of $122.5 billion. Some of the ways in which the eCommerce giant gathers useful information on its new and existing customers include third parties, user accounts, double-click and AdSense, device tracking technology and cookies. The information extracted is then used for multiple purposes such as third party info exchange, target advertising, personalized content, integration of multiple accounts and location-based services.