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Security & privacy

Use this site to see what Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and other sites know about you

If you’re using tech devices that access apps or the internet, your data is being tracked. That isn’t always a bad thing — some data gathering tools are used to help tailor your user experience to your preferences.

However, it’s not always a good thing, either. There are plenty of issues with the data gathering methods used by big tech companies. The controversy over Google collecting data when it’s not supposed to be is just one recent example.

You can learn a lot about what data your apps are gathering on you by looking at your app store’s terms and conditions. It’s not as easy to figure out what information websites are gathering on you, though — and we visit tons of sites every week. So how can you find out? There’s a handy tool that can help.

Tool shows what websites know about you

If you’ve ever wondered what information the websites you visit are gathering on you, there’s a website called JustGetMyData that can give you the answer. This site was built to help you navigate other sites and find the data they collect on you.

This tool is important because transparency about data-gathering can vary wildly from site to site. There’s a possibility that websites are gathering a ton of data on you, from your search history, location, what device you’re using, which advertisements you’ve clicked on and your interests to the time of day you are visiting a site. That’s a lot of information that you may not want to be tracked.

Luckily, this basic site is available to help you find out what information the websites you visit — Facebook, Twitter, Alibaba, Netflix or a ton of other sites — are gathering on you. Retrieving this information on your own can be complicated, which is why most people don’t do it. And that’s where JustGetMyData comes in.

This site makes the process of retrieving data easier to navigate. You can use this site to find information on your personal data, download a copy of the data these websites keep and decide whether you are comfortable keeping your account active.

Related: Study reveals the apps that grab the most personal data

It’s easy to use, too. There are color-coded site buttons on the homepage of JustGetMyData that tell you how easy or difficult it will be to retrieve your data from each site. These buttons include links to the places you need to navigate to retrieve your information. You’ll also get instructions on how to do so.

For example, if you look at Google on the JustGetMyData homepage, you’ll see that its box is color-coded as green. This signals that the site is easy to get information from. On the other hand, Github, Instagram and Netflix have yellow boxes, which let you know that there’s a medium level of difficulty for retrieving the information you’re looking for.

There are also red boxes, which signify that it will be difficult to get your data from these sites. The red sites include Microsoft, Aliexpress and Taobao, among others.

Ready to get started with JustGetMyData? Here’s how it works.

Related: Erase your data to remove your life from Google’s grip

How to use JustGetMyData

How you retrieve your information will vary from site to site. Let’s take Facebook as an example. If you click the drop-down menu on the Facebook button on the JustGetMyData website, you’ll see that it tells you to use the URL, which is hyperlinked in the green box, to access this information.

Clicking on the Facebook link takes you to the page you need to visit to access and download the data. We were able to click on the drop-down menu on this page and find the instructions for downloading this information without having to search for the information.

From there, all we had to do was follow the instructions to get a copy of the data Facebook keeps on us.

The instructions are similar for every website offered on JustGetMyData’s homepage. You click the drop-down menu, follow the link and then follow the instructions to get a copy of your info.

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