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.

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