Thursday, December 19, 2013

Online Assignment 4/5

The entire process of seeing my Facebook and Google data was quite troubling to me. My Facebook archive was in some ways less surprisingly troubling than my Google profile. The experience makes me think more about my digital presence.

The only part of my Facebook data that truly surprised me was the amount of information included about each picture, and how accurate the information was. Every picture in my Facebook data archive included the make of my camera, whether it was a Canon EOS 60D or an iPhone 5, the ISO speed, exposure and many other little details in each picture. It also included the IP address I uploaded every picture from, which surprised me. My only question was why Facebook was recording this information so in depth, what it said about me as a user, what they do with the information. I was also interested in how Facebook presented its data archive. It included separate pictures, and then an index of the photo album that included details about the photograph and comments it received on Facebook. While seeing so much accurate information about my actions being so accurately logged and given back to me is odd to me, it is also not as surprising as a whole. The data Facebook presented back to me was all taken from data I had personally and willingly uploaded to the site. Although I am sure there is other information Facebook gathers, the data in the archive was not as scary to me.

The Google information, on the other hand, was a little more troubling to me. My basic demographic information was correct, which was not too surprising. The things that Google listed as my interests, however, were a little more troubling. Google listed beauty & fitness, colleges & universities, computers & electronics, coupons & discount offers, fashion & style, games, humor, make-up & cosmetics as my first few interests in that order. I was a little surprised that Google listed beauty and fitness as my primary interest because I do not think I go to many websites about fitness. I did initially guess that the beauty part of it came from my recent online research about certain beauty products I was trying to order from Sephora, a makeup store, but then I noticed that make-up and cosmetics is another category. I do not think that beauty and fitness are my primary interests. I am also surprised that colleges and universities is a secondary interest of mine, but this could be because of my extensive research

The whole idea of being aware of my digital footprint was introduced during my college application process. Friends and parents warned me that colleges and future employers would look at Facebook profiles and reach conclusions about people based on their actions on social media. While this claim is not completely true, it does worry me that every move from my awkward middle school Bebo account to my latest Tweets contribute to my permanent trails in digital society.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Last Assignment

In exploring my personal digital footprint, I was incredibly surprised by just how much information can be recorded and/or inferred about me based on my daily Internet activities. While some of the information was less surprising, like public information I had previously posted to my wall or "information" section on Facebook, much of the information stored was unexpected. For example, not only had the Facebook kept public things, but it also had records of all my private conversations in the form of messages to specific people.
            Additionally, everything recorded was organized into specific files pertaining to what they represented. Even things I had liked years ago or people I had poked that I am no longer friends with had been included in the report. One of these files in particular sparked my interest more than the others. This file was the ads file. It recorded all of the different people and products it had tried to target me with. I had no idea that Facebook keeps track of even the ads that I'm targeted with. In today’s society information is powerful. It allows advertisers to cut through the clutter of 21st century advertising by micro targeting to a specific consumer group. With all the information that Facebook stores regarding my likes, age, gender, location, and friends, it serves as a plethora of information for businesses to discern geographics, psychographics, and behaviors upon which to advertise to me specifically. While some people may think it is great that advertising companies are personally catering to them, frankly I find it a little concerning that so much personal information is being sold to advertisers. Some of the information I have actively given out by allowing the public to see my name, profile pic, and other basic information. But as I have seen, Facebook records even things I wish to be kept private. Therefore, what is stopping them from targeting me on my private information?
            I think the results of my Google profile surprised me even more. I knew information like search history could be recorded, however, I didn’t know to what extent they could infer things about me from my searches. I was actually quite impressed at the accuracy to which they guessed my age, gender, and interests. There were only a few things that I was not actually interested, likely the result of a search for one of my college courses. But again, it raises the question of what is an invasion of privacy and where is the line that can’t be crossed. Not only does Google use my information for suggestive advertising, but it can also alter my search results based on my information. Well this can be helpful at times, like if I am in Minneapolis looking for restaurants and Google filters for Minneapolis restaurants, it can also be incredibly worrisome if I am looking up more important things and Google begins to decide what it thinks I should read. Essentially, that is censoring information.  While Google does not intend to act undemocratically, its actions are effectively limiting the wealth of knowledge available to the average person.

Online Assignment 4-5

Google was surprisingly accurate in what information it had about me. They had my gender, age range (18-24) and native language (English) all correct. I found it pretty amusing what they considered my interests to be. While the majority of them were right, there were definitely a few that I wouldn't necessarily consider to be my interests. For example, it seems I have frequently googled Wisconsin, standardized test scores, as well as colleges and universities in general. This makes sense as I bought my laptop shortly after attending SOAR. It also seems that I google for music a lot more than I realized--this, too, makes sense though. However, the only interests that didn't really seem to fit were "autos and vehicles", "computers and electronics", "rock music" and "urban and hip-hop". Nonetheless, I would say that Google has a pretty strong chance of advertising something to me that would catch my interest.

Looking at my Facebook profile was single-handedly the creepiest thing I have done. To be honest, I am very hesitant to continue using Facebook. Apparently I have a setting turned on that automatically syncs every single photo off my phone onto Facebook. This is NOT okay with me. I feel as if I have lost the control to dictate what photos the public sees. It definitely raised the issue of privacy. Furthermore, I was pretty shocked to find that Facebook has an accurate contact list. Some of the contacts I noticed I don't even have on my phone, yet Facebook has managed to keep them. Once again, this raises the issue of privacy. I am pretty creeped out by the fact that someone out there has access to all of my friends', family's, and acquaintances' numbers!

Another thing I noticed and was taken aback by was the fact that Facebook keeps a record of every single event I've attended--with addresses included. That makes it pretty easy for someone to find me. I like to think that my social gatherings are a private matter, but according to Facebook, they're not.

Lastly, I was not a fan of the fact that Facebook keeps all messages I've ever had. I've had Facebook since I was 14 years old. While I like to think the best of myself, I certainly know that I was not mature by any means as a 14 year old. The conversations I had as a 14 year old are not ones I'd like a future employer to see. Also, aren't messages between two people supposed to remain between those two people? There's definitely  a lot of privacy issues that I'm sure many people aren't aware of.

It seems as if social networking has a lot more information on ourselves and our lives than I would've ever known. Tying in a concept that's been emphasized throughout J201's entirety is that of skepticism. From henceforth I will be far more skeptical when deciding what to post, what to write, and who to contact on the web.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Online Assignment 4/5

First, for my Google profile, they were accurate in that I am a female, between the ages of 18 and 24. It is also aware that I speak English, and that I speak a little French as well. I’m sure it’s aware of this due to my searching of French vocabulary frequently. It also says that Spanish is one of my languages, which I do not speak. I don’t remember searching anything in Spanish, but I might have. I found my interests according to Google the most interesting. My top interest is Action and Adventure films. Although I enjoy watching those movies, they are definitely not my top interest. Other interests included banking, consumer electronics, fitness, hair care, make-up and cosmetics, pet food and supplies, primary and secondary schooling, recording industry, reference, Reggaeton, service providers, social issues and advocacy, and teaching and classroom resources. Some of these I do search a lot, but Google must think that I am a teacher or that I am going into education with some of my interests listed, which is not true. As for the other interests, they are pretty accurate in my searches, and I think they are typical of college-aged females. My interests were pretty broad, some searches I am definitely more proud of than others.
 Secondly, my Facebook download showed a lot of information I knew that Facebook had about me, because I use the site everyday. However, when I looked at my photos on Facebook, I expected to see the ones that I posted. I found it incredibly creepy that Facebook had photos that I had never posted on the site, and some photos that I had actually deleted off my phone. This proved that there actually is an unlimited supply of information on the web, or that major corporations such as Facebook have access to (Wells, 2013). These are things that I no longer have easy access to myself. Facebook also had many conversations and messages that I had with friends all the way back from freshman year of high school. And those conversations are less than flattering. It is scary to think that those could be accessed by Facebook still to this day. I think this was most frightening to me because even if I put something up on Facebook and decide to take it down, someone, somewhere still has access to it.
With our generation constantly using social media, and using it to express our thoughts, opinions, and tell people about our lives without even really knowing them, it is important that we are careful to whatever we put online, because it is fairly easy to access information that isn’t even your own. This is especially concerning for me if a future employer of mine ever looks on my Facebook profile.  I want to be sure that there isn’t anything absurd up. This assignment was the perfect way of showing us what our parents and teachers have always warned: watch what you are doing online, because anyone can have access to it.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Alex Shimony Online Assignment 4-5

After looking at the information both Google and Facebook have stored about me, I have come to two conclusions.  First, both of these websites have a ridiculous amount of information about me, ranging from my demographics to my interests, and second, that the majority of this information is extremely accurate.  Without me purposefully giving any clues about who I am to Google, it has done a remarkable job of shaping a profile for me.  Here is a sample of some of the interests of mine that Google has collected: computers and electronics, food and drink, humor, online video, rap and hip-hop, and TV shows and programs.  With these “interests” being listed in front of me, it makes a lot of sense why and how Google came to these conclusions.  Both Google and Facebook have only one way of determining who you are as an individual, and that comes from what you type into the search bar or what you like/post on their site.  The scary thing is that millions of people use both of these services on a daily basis.  Google and Facebook are the first and second most visited websites respectively (  With this enormous amount of daily traffic, both of these sites have an almost infinite amount of information to analyze and categorize the people who use them.  This is quite worrisome, especially with the developments in the NSA spying scandal.  If these two corporations have this amount of information about me, imagine what the government knows.  There is almost no way to remain anonymous online.  Not all of this is negative, having advertisements targeted to your interests can be a good thing because instead of being shown an ad for something you have no interest in, and you can now be exposed to products that may potentially be beneficial to you.  An interesting thing I found on the Google page is at the bottom of the website there is an option to opt out of interest based ads on Google.  Now while this might seem like a reassuring thing at face value, the fact that someone has to find this page about the ad settings, and then scroll all the way to the bottom in order to opt out of target based ads is a large hurdle to overcome.  If it weren’t for this class, I probably would of never known about this ad settings page.  I’m assuming that most people are in the same boat as I was a few hours ago, blissfully unaware of this option and unaware of what exactly the Internet knows.

            This all being said, it may be time for people to take a hard look at their Internet usage and make some changes.  While it’s extremely convenient to type in any question that pops into your head into Google, these seemingly inconsequential actions are in fact just the opposite.  With the Internet comes greater connections between people and more access to information for the general population (lecture), but when is too much? With the positives come the negatives, by allowing people to search whatever pops in their head it also creates a bridge from websites to know exactly what we are thinking. 

World Wide Memory

The main difference I discerned between the Facebook data about myself that I downloaded and the Google information about myself is that the Facebook profile is mainly things that I have posted. This means that at some point, I deemed my photos, wall posts, statuses, and messages as worthy of entering online. This began to worry me when I saw some of the posts I have made that require knowledge of the situation in order to be understood or need to be understood as sarcastic or else their implications seem problematic; tone is not conveyed effectively. I think this shows an understanding of my generation that things we post are thought of as transitory, passing whims. We don’t consider them that important over time, even if we consider some of our online interactions as important while we are having them. Perusing my Facebook data, however, assaulted me with the reality of my online interaction—it’s all there. All of it is recorded, the good and the bad. A great deal of it is awkward to read through and recall because it is so pointless now or I would rather forget it happened. It caused me to reflect on the purpose of my Facebook status to me. Currently, I think I’ve posted a status three times in the last eight months, so I don’t use it very often. However, when I first had Facebook 6 years and 4 months ago (cool, it tells you when you created it!), I posted a lot of statuses, mostly stupid ones. I was thinking that my statuses are kind of like looking through a photo album...except that it isn’t the same. We take photos and actually make them into an album if interesting things are happening (Snapchat is changing this though). My statuses in and of themselves are not interesting. The most disturbing realization of this exercise was seeing my private messages between friends. I wish many of them could be destroyed. There is so much there that just doesn’t need to be remembered, especially word for word.
               In contrast, my Google information was a bit different because it is Google’s assumptions about me based on my searches and site history. I was actually surprised by how inaccurately Google chose my “interests.” Then I realized that many of them make sense because of the stage of life I am in—college, where I have very, very little time to do what I enjoy or try new activities. Thus, most of my searches are school related (e.g. “Books & Literature, Finance”). My interests based on websites I have visited are confined solely to “Dictionaries & Encyclopedias...” Some categories make no sense to me. Not only am I not interested in them, but I don’t remember any searches that would lead to these categories (e.g. “Hair care, mobile phones, shooter games, celebrities & entertainment news, East Asian music”). Thus, Google’s information about me seemed less personal than Facebook’s. I caused Google to perceive me that way through my searches and web history, but I didn’t actually input the specific information about myself.

               My main takeaway from this exercise is that I feel a bit like our digital world is Michael Foucault’s concept of “panopticism.” We are always monitored. Everything I say on Facebook, “privately” in messages or publicly in posts, is recorded and located in some database somewhere I have no access to and can no longer control. My use of Google affects what the company thinks of me, and it can sell that information to advertisers. I think that we (all internet users, not just my generation) need to more carefully consider what we type into our computers. Maybe for Google searches, it doesn’t matter. Facebook, on the other hand, can seem a bit intrusive. I wonder if this means we should have more face-to-face or physical communication...

Online Assignment 4-5

    I'm fairly open about most things in my life. I'm friends with a lot of people, or I'd like to think so. At the same time, though, I'm only close friends with a very few people. Facebook and Google know me like an acquaintance would know me: my interests (to some extent), my basic information, and some details about my day-to-day life. As I explored, I found some accurate information about myself – they know my birthday, my approximate age, exactly what I've written and done on Facebook for the past year. There were some inaccuracies, of course. For example, Google thinks I like shooter games for some reason, and I've never played a video game in my life. But for the most part they were spot on. I do enjoy dance, I read a lot of philosophy and I'm a great cook.
     While I don't necessarily find it ok that I'm being data mined by these large corporations, I also believe that I (and most people) are much more complex than what music we listen to and what we post on our social media. True communication will always be face-to-face. Google may know what I'm buying my sister for Christmas before she does, but they'll never know the conversations I've had with her about middle-school and first boyfriends. Facebook may know that I “like” Passion Pit, but they'll never know I start every morning run with “Take A Walk” (though maybe now they do). Moreover, people change – and what is true of someone one day as they surf the web may not be true the next.
    Media is becoming a huge and increasingly important part of our lives – for better or worse. I truly believe, however, that it's effect will be simply one of the many communications that shape who we are. At the end of the day, an algorithm cannot understand a person. More than that, it's impossible to completely categorize a person. Google and Facebook try to understand us for ad purposes, try to understand what we like and do so that we can be targeted. The truth is, though, that despite the categories we fit into, we are each unique enough that we can never be understood through a program.
    Therefore, though I believe that media affects us and that we affect media in a constant interplay, I'm not hugely concerned about my privacy or what Google and Facebook “know” about me. In fact, as long as the interplay exists, they won't be able to understand me any better than people I talk to occasionally. This is not to downplay the importance of media in our lives, but to remember that even new media cannot undermine individuality, personality, or the significance of person-to-person interaction.

Online Assignment 4-5

After downloading my Facebook data as well as the data from my Google account, I explored the information they had about me and was not surprised by most of the information they had. Although the information from both sites was very detailed and personal, it closely related my search history, Facebook likes and groups, as well as my profile information. Even though a lot of the information did not surprise me, it does bother me that advertisers have access to all of this information and can use it to try and target me, however I usually don’t pay any attention to side bar ads anyway because I have learned to ignore them.

Something that did surprise me was how clearly the information was organized when I downloaded my Facebook data. They have complied every post, picture, and wall post since the time I created my account, along with every change in my account’s security and settings as well as a log of which ads I’ve clicked on. What surprised me on Google was also their ability to organize my search history into categories that pretty accurately describe my interests such as graphic design, movies, and news. However they were inaccurate in some areas, for example folk and traditional music, which I’m not sure how it became a part of my interest profile. Another thing that surprised me is that there is a log of my Facebook messages. This also bothers me because I was not aware that these were not private, and advertisers could potentially have access to them.

My experience in this exercise suggests that life in the digital society can be more dangerous as advertisers become more manipulative, as they have gained the ability to use you interests and Internet activity to target certain ads to you. Another dangerous part of this phenomenon is that you see these ads multiple times a day, every time you go online or to check Facebook. Your personal information becomes less personal, and targeted advertising constantly surrounds you, making some people more susceptible to buying the products. I remember searching on North Face for a new coat and now almost every time I log on Facebook that coat is in the corner, or even in my newsfeed, as a constant reminder not to forget about the coat, and in some ways this form of advertising is successful keeping me thinking about the product.

Seeing this information shifts the way I communicate and act online because I am more conscious of which ads I do click on, which sites I visit, and my Facebook activity, now knowing that everything I do is being documented. Also knowing that advertisers use this data to target me makes me more conscious of the ads, and I will probably notice the connection between my Facebook activity and web history and the ads even more. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Online Assignment 4/5

            I can’t say I was too surprised to see the extent of information Google and Facebook have about me. After a semester of learning about all of the information advertisers can get on individuals, as well as being cautioned for years that nothing you put on the internet will ever really go away, I was completely aware that all of this information about me was being stored somewhere in cyber space. However, seeing all of this information with my own eyes conglomerated in one space did serve as a reminder of the lack of privacy we have on the web.
            The information Google had on me was not overly impressive. There were twenty categories under my interests, none of which were that specific. Categories such as News, Politics, Movies, Shopping and Music & Audio do not narrow me down much as a consumer. There were a few categories, such as Soccer, Running & Walking, and Resumes & Portfolios that were less broad, but also did not provide any outstanding insights. Google’s records of my interests based on my previous searchers and the webpages I have visited does not really concern me in terms of privacy and security. This information seems broad and impersonal enough that I do not feel like my privacy has been violated.
            In contrast, the information Facebook has stored presents more privacy concerns. Facebook keeps track of years of messages. Any conservation I’ve ever had online is located in one place. I wasted a good half hour reading through ridiculous conversations I had junior year of high school. Although I can’t imagine anyone has anything to gain from reading through my Facebook messages, it does seem like a serious invasion of privacy that all of these messages are at the disposal of tech wizards, and therefore, potentially anyone else who desires to see them. I was talking to a friend about this, and she told me her mom’s friend who is a computer scientist told her he knew how to access anyone’s history on social media accounts, including personal messages.
            The accessibility of all of my personal online data definitely serves as a reminder to be careful what I put on the Internet, even in a private message.  It also opened my eyes to the tremendous power Facebook, Google, and the tech elite have over the lives of citizens. On another note, I thought how these technological advances, and in sense privacy invasions, are going to change the face of politics. There is going to come a day, and we’re fast approaching it, when every person running for office has years and years of personal data stored by websites like Facebook and Google.

Last Online Assignment :(

I opened my Facebook data set and was surprised to see the amount of information I’ve forked over since September 2008. Looking back over the five years I’ve had a profile, it’s interesting to see how my interests, statuses, and friends have changed and matured. Most of the information I expected, but there were a few things I didn’t think Facebook kept track of: removed friends, previous relationship statuses, and previous emails associated with my account. 

After looking at my analytics, I'll admit it's creepy that all of my information on Facebook is so easily categorized, and has been willingly volunteered in bits and pieces to form a gestalt about my identity. Yet by scrolling through my likes, the information I've put on Facebook seems to positively and accurately represent my personality. The clicked ads potion of the analytics is short, but I remember clicking on almost all of those ads because I was genuinely interested in them. Further, the advertising 'tags' reflect my likes,  which are heavily represented by music, radio, publications, and organizations at the UW and in the Madison community.

I have mixed feelings about this aggregate of data, but I don't feel like Facebook has ever tricked me into sharing something I didn't want share. At the same time I am uncomfortable with the our generation's problem of digital immortality - there is a sense of permanence online that makes it impossible to erase the mistakes of one's past. I wish I could say I will be more cognizant of how I share information online, but I won't - I use Facebook primarily for business and school, two areas where, like a social credit score, it's important to have a positive portrayal of oneself.  

Google’s analytics, on the other hand, were incredibly general. While it got my gender and age range correct, the interests Google gave me were broad and could be applied to a lot of people in college — music, politics, news, pop culture, etc. There were a few dud categories - for example, I am not interested in sports - but Google’s categories are generally accurate; yet the searches I make on Google on a daily basis - as well as the information I share with my Google+ account - could have been refined much more deeply. 

I generally don’t have a problem with these sites targeting my personal interests based on the information I’ve given them. To me, it’s part of the free information- no privacy tradeoff; these companies must make money somehow. And as someone who sells advertising for her job, I’ve come to see it as not such a bad thing. However, I’m happy that I can see the information these giants have collected on me, in the interest of full disclosure. 

I rarely click on advertisements targeted at me (Facebook says I have just 16 clicked ads in the past five years). Just as an experiment, this assignment motivated me to opt out of interest-based ads on Google and Facebook for awhile, and I’m excited to see some extremely irrelevant advertisements. I also downloaded Ghostery, which prevents Google and other sites from closely tracking my web movements.

Online Assignment 4-5

With the rise of “Web 2.0” and the prevalence of various kinds of social media in today’s society, from Facebook and Twitter to Instagram or even LinkedIn, it is increasingly the case that every aspect of peoples’ lives can be found on the web somewhere. Slowly but surely, maintaining a strong sense of privacy is becoming less and less possible, in favor of sharing every event with all of one’s Instagram or Twitter followers, and of course several hundred Facebook friends. But what is most frightening to me is the information that these sites have about me, and have kept documented over the years, that I never even realized.

While I wasn’t entirely surprised with the information Facebook initially presented in my downloaded data, from past relationships to family relationships or even all of my uploaded photos, there were several things that took me by surprise. First of all, when looking at my “likes,” and groups, which were arranged in chronological order, I was immediately struck by how one could observe the passage of time and how I really grew up on the site. The likes started with things as basic as my hometown and various authors or actors that I remember loving in ninth grade. From there, the pages and groups provided a remarkably accurate depiction of my high school career, from Student Government to National Honor Society. They then slowly transitioned into various college pages and groups that signaled the end of my high school career like “Prom 2013” and “Senior Women 2013” before becoming overwhelmed with pages related to UW-Madison. While I was always aware of liking these pages at the time, it was shocking how much of the last four years of my life can be seen online and how accurately my online persona reflects my adolescent life. I think this has something to do with how Facebook is structured so that people only share as much as they want to -- they can be as involved or uninvolved as they want.

Google, on the other hand, does not have this conscious opt-in policy. As the dominant search engine today, and “google” becoming a well-used verb, I know very few people who choose to use another search engine. For this reason, I was expecting Google to know far more about my web activity and my online persona than Facebook ever would. However, Google’s information about me was far less accurate than Facebook’s data. They were able to accurately predict my gender and general age range, but in terms of interests, there were very few overlaps between their conclusions and the truth. Not only were their very broad conclusions only somewhat accurate, like “Arts & Entertainment” or “Music & Audio,” several of the interests they described were way off, like “Bollywood & South Asian Film” and “Vehicle Brands,” both of which I have little interest in. Although these conclusions may help target specific advertisements to me based solely on very general categories, they do little in terms of targeting specific interests of mine.

From this experience, it is clear that, although there is a heated debate about internet monitoring and how companies like Google or Facebook use data about specific audiences, it is the information that people volunteer freely that enables companies to more accurately come to conclusions about specific personalities. Although I use Google dozens of times every day, they were unable to come to any substantial or incredibly accurate conclusions about myself and my habits. However, it was Facebook, and the information I shared freely, that knew more about me. So although we may blame companies like Google for internet monitoring, we must take into account what information we willingly share with the world rather than blaming companies that support the platforms on which we choose to broadcast our lives.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Online Assignment 4-5

As the issue of privacy in media has become a more prevalent topic of discussion, the general reaction is one of violation or of being fearful of the vast amount of information about our lifestyles that can be made public.  And while I think this is a valid reaction, I don't think we can claim that we had no idea such information could ever be collected about us, as we willing put information about ourselves out there day in and day out.  Most often we are not intentionally submitting information that we wish to be used to target us with ads, but I don't think we can legitimately claim victimization as we are voluntarily making this information public.

In looking at my Facebook data, I was really quite impressed by the information that the formidable "they" have collected about me.  I update my status about once every two months, I don't think I have uploaded a picture in about two years, and the information about me that I have on my profile (movies, books, activities, etc.) is very limited.  The majority of my Facebook activity consists of commenting on and liking others' posts.  Nevertheless, the majority of the topics that make up the "Ad Topics" list that Facebook has stored about me are quite accurate.  It seems that the list is compiled by looking at not only what I post, but what groups I am a part of, others' posts or pictures that I have liked, etc.  While I suppose this is slightly invasive, it's not as if the information they have collected is offensive, nor is the way they use it.  To be honest, it's nice when I see an ad that I have been targeted with because it is likely I would not have gone looking for that product, service, etc.  

On the other hand, the information I found in my Google Ad settings did offend me.  Not necessarily was the Interests succession inaccurate, but the age group that was suggested by my Google profile was vastly online self apparently falls between 35 and 44 years of age.  While I can how this could be concluded based on my searching of topics such as news, weather, health, restaurants and crime shows, it is still offensive.  Nonetheless, the list does correctly depict topics I search most often and until seeing this list, I was confused as to why I am targeted with certain ads.  Once I am able to see past the offensive supposed age, I can be realistic about the accuracy of my profile.

It seems like those who fear the amount of information that has been collected about them are under the impression that the ads they are targeted with will be so well placed that they will have no choice but to be submissive toward those ads.  On the contrary, I find myself to be a relatively mature young adult with a reasonable amount of self-control.  If I see an ad that I am interested in, I may click it, but that does not mean I will blow my life savings on it.  However, I should be more careful about what age demographic my activity suggests...At least they correctly assessed my gender.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Assignent 4 & 5

Upon viewing the data that both Facebook and Google had on me I was surprised by the depth of information that the digital media sights had on me.  It shouldn’t have been completely shocking to me to discover what it was that Facebook knew about me since I was the one who put the majority of the information about myself onto Facebook’s website sight on my personal profile.  However, there were certain things that had been clicked on or put on my profile long-ago that I was surprised to rediscover.
            While my age, gender, picture archive, birthday, and even current location were pieces of information I assumed that Facebook would probably have on record. However, I was surprised to find that Facebook had a record of my previous relationships, “pokes”, and a list of friends I had removed, requested, or had received a request from. The most interesting, and perhaps boundary-stepping, aspect that I found while looking through this was Facebook’s record of every message conversation I had ever had on the site.  Long-forgotten conversations that I thought had been deleted years ago were visible to me. I guess it just kind of underlined the fact to me that whatever is put up on the internet is a part of  a permanent archive that can not actually ever be deleted.
            The information that Google had on me was a bit more intimate in concerns to my personal interests.  To me, this information archive Google had built up about me--which interestingly enough knew my age range, the fact that I’m learning French, and multiple interests that I have—was more surprising because it could have only been built on the kinds of things that I have searched on Google and the types of websites that I have visited.  There was no profile in which I personally provided my interests or the fact that I’m learning French.    
            Google’s evaluation of my interests based on websites I had visited were so varied, however, that it did not paint too disturbingly accurate of a painting of myself.  Some of what it had gathered about my interests were spot-on, for example travel, running, music, dictionaries, and education, but nothing was so specifically true about me that it couldn’t have been applied to someone else my age. Many of what it had gathered about my interests were too vague or completely off.  It guessed that I have an interest in sports, record labels, games, business news, and cooking, none of which I would describe as an interest of mine.  Others, such as food and drink, weather, music, and movies were really too broad to describe my interests.
            This exercise provided an interesting look at the effects of living in an increasingly digitally based media society. We’re constantly adding to our online personalities every time we search a term on Google or have a conversation over Facebook. We are becoming less private in the era of digital media pouring more of ourselves into the interconnectedness that is the web. Our past and present selves are kept on record and it will be interesting to see what this means for generations proceeding our own. Through our participation and interactions with the web we constantly contribute to this infinite and ever-evolving archive of the human race.