Until recently, the last thing most people ever thought about was being tracked online. We have a better sense of how that works now, but sometimes we’re still not aware that some of our most-used platforms know a lot more about us than we might be comfortable with. It turns out that Spotify has a large amount of data on its users, because it’s tracking everything you do when you use the platform.
The first thing it has is an enormous amount of behavioral data, since it knows every artist you’ve ever listened to, every playlist you’ve selected, how long you listened to each song, and if and when you paused or bailed out from listening. The company has invested heavily into data science in order to target listeners with just the right advertising, and this is the key information it needs to perform that task. Even if you’re a paying subscriber, it’s going to target you at some point and in some way even away from the platform. But that’s not all.
And The Usual and Unusual Ways
Of course, it has all the data that you used to register on the platform – name, street address, gender, email, phone number, and country. If you’re a paying subscriber, it has your billing information. And you’ve probably given Spotify your permission to get cookie data, IP addresses, the type of device you’re using, your browser type, your operating system, and information about some devices on your Wi-Fi network as well.
Plus it can also get “motion-generated or orientation-generated mobile sensor data” from your phone’s accelerometer or gyroscope, and if you use its “Hey Spotify” voice controls, then guess what? – it can also access these recordings too. If that’s not enough, it can also access other information about you from services that you use like Facebook.
Here’s the thing, most people feel pretty secure with Spotify because they’re not uploading images or posting stories. The fact of the matter is it doesn’t need any of the typical social engagements in order to get what it needs to keep tracking you.
What You Can Do
You can limit some (not all) of the data collection by going to the Privacy Settings under Account Information. There you can opt out of the “Tailored Ads” (you’ll still see some though) and turn off Facebook data so it won’t be shared with the platform. If you’re listening to Spotify via the web, consider using Incognito mode as well to limit the additional tracking that comes from browser usage.
You can figure that every single service on the internet is now doing exactly the same thing, since data collection is at the core of what they do any more. You can’t stop all of the tracking, but at least you can limit what they learn about you if you remember to take those privacy settings seriously.