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.