Monday, December 16, 2013

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. 

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