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Even if you have a cell phone, you might not be aware of the numerous and often little-noticed ways that it tracks you. You might think that your phone knows about your location at all times, but it does far more than that: It monitors your every move, whether you’re using the app or not. And it can even keep track of who’s watching.

The most important thing to realize is that everyone has an iPhone (and, in the United States at least, an Android). This means that every time you open an app or go somewhere there is a record of where you went and who was with you. And once you open up Facebook on your phone, there are records of who sees what and when. But just how much do they know?

The first thing to note is this: most apps are designed so that they only record certain actions — say, when somebody dials a number — rather than recording all activities happening on a device. That’s because there’s no point in recording things happening in the background if nobody will ever see them and know what they mean (the data may be useful for marketing purposes but nobody appears to care). However, the software can still be built to record all activities. The next step is to figure out what those activities are and see which ones are being recorded. This becomes harder as mobile devices get larger and more powerful (e.g., laptops), because each action must then be tagged as one or multiple “things” or “events” rather than just one event—like hitting the wrong button called “Bring Up New Tab” vs crashing into trees (which we could never tag as such).

This means that you need to know a lot more information about your girlfriend’s phone tracking apps than you do today:

• Location: Where we are at any given moment
• App usage: Which apps we have open (or closed down) at any given moment
• App activity: What actions were taken by which apps during any given period (e.g., search results were opened by Google on two occasions; “X-rated video was played by Vimeo on three occasions.)
• Content viewing activity: What content was viewed by whom during which period (e.g., someone viewed my YouTube videos without me knowing about it)

As for what people do with these records — well, some people use their phones mainly for work

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