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MIT Technology Review

Maybe we should ask about Google’s data privacy

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The Cambridge Analytica debacle has all eyes on Facebook over privacy concerns—but people are starting to ask whether Google could be just as bad, if not worse.

Data slurping: Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Christopher Mims explains how Google hoovers up user data—through apps, web browsing, and more—much the way Facebook does. And how it uses all of that to sell advertising, just like Facebook. Oh, and how its terms of service are hard to understand. Like ... yep, Facebook.

A bigger fish: “Google, in every respect, collects more data [than Facebook],” said David Chavern, president of News Media Alliance, to Bloomberg last week. Google controls about 40 percent of US digital advertising; Facebook controls 20 percent.

Why no attention? Facebook’s scandal is linked to election meddling and third-party data sharing, which sparked a particular kind of outrage. Plus, writes Maya Kosoff in Vanity Fair, “Google’s complexity ... may shield [it] from scrutiny for now.”

What next: Google could easily be rocked by a scandal like Facebook’s. But any incoming regulation that hits Zuck & Co is also likely to affect Google regardless, so we may not need to endure a replay of the last month to have the search firm’s wings clipped.