Thursday, December 19, 2013

Online Assignments 4 & 5_ Holt

Tim Holt
Online Assignment 4 & 5
To start this assignment, I was skeptical about how accurate Google’s and Facebook’s description of me would be. By the end of this experiment, I was extremely surprised to see just how accurate both of the sites description of me were just based off of what I posted to my social media platform and what I typed into my search engines in Google. Both sites were able to track information about me while Facebook had more of a personal feel to it, probably because I use it for more of my personal reasons, while Google was also able to give an almost perfect description of myself and demographic as well.

I have been using social media platforms since 2006 when I created my Myspace account in 6th grade, and have been an avid poster on the more current social media platforms since Myspace, mostly Facebook and Twitter. So when I looked at the fact that Facebook had been tracking the information about myself including every post, comment, picture, setting and profile change had been recorded down to every detail, I was almost a bit freaked out. But at the same time it was kind of surreal looking back at how much I had changed from when I was in middle school compared to my life in college now and how much different everything I post and like is now compared to when I first registered my Facebook account. I would say that Facebook grabbed my attention more so than Google just in the fact that if a random person was looking at both sites information listed about me, they would be able to tell more about me through Facebook’s tracked information. Overall, it was a very eye opening experience looking at all of Facebook’s database of information compiled from my uses on the social media platform.

Although Google may not have been as personal as Facebook was, it was still able to accurately describe some aspects about myself. One of these apsects was not age, as Google was wrong when guessing my age range as 25-34 years of age. There could be many reasons for this, such as my searches matching the criteria of people that fall into those age groups. This would leave me to believe that I search things that relate more to what older people search, but when Google listed my interests they included things such as superhero films and adventure games. Both of these are correct in regards to my interests, but it doesn’t seem like what people in the age range of 25-34 would normally search. However, some of my other interests that were incorrect included things such as parenting and software management. These are not interests of mine, but Google probably interpreted them as my interests due to the volume of searches that included these topics. The reason why these are skewed would probably have to do with my classes, as I have taken parenting and childhood classes in my past as well as chemistry and mathematics. As a whole, Google was able to give a well-rounded sum of my interests and demographics based upon what I searched on the website. This assignment has showed me that life in the digital society can directly relate to your life and it is easy to know a lot about people simply based upon what they search and post to social media websites.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Luke Rykoskey_Online Assignment 4-5

Online Assignment 4-5

            To start this assignment, I requested my archive from Facebook, came back a few days later, and noticed that the file to download was expired since you are only able to open it shortly after getting it.  I just thought it was extremely strange for Facebook to only give me access to the data they have on my life for less than 2 days before it becomes closed and I have to re-request the file again.  After I explored through the numerous files, the most unsettling data that I found was the facial recognition information they have on me.  That was the last thing I expected to find in the information they store about me.  I always thought it was weird how Facebook could tag all your friends in pictures for you, but never thought about the other possibilities this information could be used for until now.  Most of the other information, security settings, friends, pokes, events, messages and pictures don’t really bother me much.  Half of that stuff is accessible to thousands of people by just scrolling down my page further.  The thing I find confusing, is why are there even security settings, when so much information about you given away without your knowledge.
            After getting my google information, it was clear that they don’t know much about me.  Other than the fact I am a male with an age between 18 and 24, they don’t have any other information.  Under the section humorously titled interests, they have listed categories from key words I have searched on google in the past.  I guess I never knew my interests are banking, classical music, East Asian music, visual art and design among other more accurate topics.  They also have me listed at blocking zero advertising campaigns when in fact I block every advertisement from appearing on my computer.  I would have thought that more information was collected about me since everything I do goes through google to begin with. 
            Overall, this experience wasn’t very surprising to me.  I think the algorithm designed to direct advertisements is great since there is nothing more useless than a company paying money to show an ad to people who don’t care.  This exercise shows that each time you log into Facebook or search google, more is happening than what you see which brings a new perspective into what you do online.  Every conversation you have on the internet is kept somewhere.  Today, delete is thought of a way to make something go away forever.  So many movies are based around the sole idea of finding a way to delete some information, when in reality, there are always traces.  Fields have been found based on recovering lost data, and companies now check profiles before hiring.  Although the delete button is available, society needs to understand that it’s not there to fix mistakes.

Online Assignment 4/5_Heyler

Online Assignments 4 & 5
Sydney Heyler
J201- Section 310

            I found this assignment to be very insightful and eye opening.  It was interesting and quite surprising to learn how much information the Internet has collected about me over the years.  Every time you enter a search into Google or post something on Facebook, you don’t consider the fact that it’s being documented and used for other purposes.  Every minute detail has been stored in some way. 
Despite entering almost no personal information about myself on my Google profile, Google seemed to know plenty.  Google knew my age group, the fact that I am studying Spanish, many of my interests and more.  There wasn’t anything listed that I can’t say describes me to at least some degree.  I was rather impressed and slightly troubled by the accuracy of it all.  I can’t help but feel slightly “watched” over the years as I utilized Google; it was an important thing to be brought to my attention.  You can’t be ignorant of the fact that nothing that you do on the Internet is private.  The fact that Google can utilize this information to target advertisements at its users is quite simply genius.  I now know that if I see an advertisement for American Football or a travel website it’s because Google knows these are interests of mine and is fully utilizing their data.  I can’t say I blame them, but I can’t say it makes me totally comfortable either.
            My Facebook data was also very interesting to explore.  The information that Facebook had was a bit less shocking since much of it was based on what I have entered/updated on my profile over the years.  What was surprising was the amount of information Facebook had.  I was able to find content about my life from years ago, things that I have completely forgotten about.  It’s amazing to see that Facebook knows your history better than you do.  Facebook doesn’t forget that status posted in 2008 or the private message conversations from the ninth grade.  It has all been documented, recorded and saved forever.  While the thought of that is interesting it is also a bit unsettling to think that a website might just know you better than you know yourself.  Absolutely nothing that you do online is private, and nothing, no matter how many years ago it was, is forgotten.

            This assignment has definitely shifted how I view my Internet usage.  We truly live in a digital society, where nothing is private, and much is known about you without your knowledge.  It was so interesting to see this information brought to my attention and to bear in mind that every time I click my mouse, enter a Google search or post a Facebook status, it is being monitored, recorded and tracked.  While I will not drastically change my Internet behaviors, I will still keep these thoughts in mind going forward.  The digital society is a powerful world and deserves respect for the knowledge it has and influence it exerts.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Assignment 4/5 __ Hively

     This was a very interesting assignment. It showed me how detailed my online profile was. It was also interesting to see how much information I contributed to my own profile, and how much was decided for me. Google decided who I was based on what I do on the Internet. They were also pretty accurate, for the most part. While I am not a fan of Beauty Pageants, Google got most of my other interests spot on.  Facebook was also accurate in delivering ads to my screen. I had no idea that these websites knew so much about me. All of this shows us that we are only in the beginning of the digital age. In the future public profiles will continue to get more detailed, and the more personalized our ads will become. The big question facing the future deals with how they are using that information. Ever since the NSA-Snowden blowup, everyone has been increasingly concerned with online privacy. As of right now, it seems that nothing is private.  Google can find out anything about you because they are with you everywhere you browse. They also tailor your web experience based on things you have done in the past.
            There is also a change in media’s place in society. In the past, media was more passive. Citizens could choose when they wanted media in their lives or out. We could choose if we wanted to read the newspaper or turn on the news. Nowadays, media is becoming more a part of society.  Media is starting to become the way for us to interact in the social realm.  I cannot remember the last time I found out about a new relationship other than through Facebook. Events are spread over Facebook because it is easier than word of mouth. People love social media because they can carefully craft what everyone else can see.  Public profiles carry a lot of risks too. When posting for an audience of 600 friends (and all of their friends), it is important to post things that you want other people to see. Your posts and online activity becomes who you are. Google and Facebook have caused us to carry out online profiles into the real world.

            The personalization aspects of Facebook and a Google have many positives. Google allows me to see relevant advertisements to things I am interested in. Facebook allows me to share exactly what I want to share. In those regards, social media is great. Privacy is where this type of media fails. It magnifies everything that we do. If I were to describe Facebook to someone who lived in the 1970s, I would describe it as if a video camera where to follow you around all day. Every single move is captured and recorded essentially for everyone to see. This is what makes social media dangerous for everyone in my generation. Future bosses can search the histories of Facebook or Twitter and see everything that we have done. Facebook and Twitter have more information on us than we know, and some information we don’t want other people to know.

Online Assignment 4&5__Jacobsen

The outlets and usage of social media continuously change just like our ways of communication have been since language emerged. Over the past few years, our usage of social media has been recorded in correlation with the increasing importance of social media to the business world. In looking through the data accumulated about me over Facebook and Google, it’s strange to see such insignificant details of my life forgotten years ago suddenly resurfacing. It was quite an interesting view into my past in seeing who I used to be friends with, what was important to me, and how much my life has changed in just a few short years.
Facebook especially led me on a walk down memory lane. My posts and likes from my pre-teen years are very comical to me now, but I was glad that I was the only one reading them.  It concerns me how much has been saved over the years and how much information someone could possibly find about me if they set their mind to it. The ad data about my interests on Facebook was a little puzzling. Things I had searched for minimally came up as a main interest. For example, I like the musician BeyoncĂ© a decent amount, but an ad topic came up about her nine times, which seems a little excessive compared to other things I usually search for. Their odd statistics about me were perhaps due to the fact that I have only ever clicked on an ad on Facebook twice according to their data,  both of which I believe happened accidentally, as well. However, Google’s information seemed generally accurate because it chose broader themes and genres of interests compared to specific topics.
What scares me most now about the data collected from social media is the permanence of our digital footprints. Now more than ever, employers and other influential people look to these sites to get to know a person before hiring them. It can take one angry or insensitive status to give a negative impression about someone, which in many ways is not fair. Social media should be a chance to communicate with a global village without constant fear of ruining your future (Lule 2012). As my generation enters adulthood, we must analyze everything we post to make sure it will reflects us in a positive light. I realize that now I post for future employers sometimes instead of the person I am. Maybe the solution lies in finding a balance, but with social media as sometimes the main reflection of personality to the world, none of us have anywhere to be truly ourselves. It’s a little disheartening, but that may involve editing your profile and deleting a few of those Spring Break pictures. As I spoke about before, social media continues to change and reshape itself. While it may be discouraging, it’s necessary to accept these changes if you are going to participate on social media and navigate the job market successfully.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Online assignment 4/5_Dobbs

     I thought this was a very interesting assignment. I did not even know we could do such things as find out what information certain websites have about us and about our usage on the Internet. The information Facebook had from me was not at all surprising because all of that stuff has been on my Facebook page one time or another. Looking through all of the information was a bit entertaining and was a little "blast from the past" because I have had a Facebook since 7th grade. The information that was a bit surprising was all of the ad information they had. the number of different things to advertise about was outrageous. I never really pay any attention to the ads on Facebook, but it is astonishing knowing how many different ads I have seen. Looking through all of the ads makes sense, however, because I am interested in almost every one of the things that has been advertised. Even new things that just came out a few days ago, BeyoncĂ©'s new album for example, has apparently been advertised to me.  This impressed me because they knew that I would be interested in it based on things I have looked at in the past or my related interests. Another thing that surprised me about my Facebook information is that they had my Wiscmail account and I do not ever remember entering that in my information anywhere and do not know how they would have gotten that information.
     As for Google, I had no idea what to expect from this site. The information they had on me as far as my age and gender were accurate, but I do have a Google account so I do not know if they just used that information or not. What they had on me for the language part was also interesting because it shows English and 1 other for me, which is Spanish. This is interesting because I am in a Spanish class currently and use the google translate a lot from English to Spanish or visa versa and never knew that google picked up on that kind of stuff. As far as the interests Google has pegged for me in the ads on Google column, they did not quite suit me. They chose banking, pet food and supplies, recording industry, and reggaeton for me. I feel that I do not particularly search things that fit these topics very often. As for the the other Google ads across the web section, they offered a more accurate selection of my interests. They provided things such as movies, fitness, college and universities, and other things that I find myself involved in. How they received this information is a bit disturbing, and once it is brought to your attention, the whole idea of this is troubling.
     I think all of this shows just how advanced our digital society is getting and how it is forcing ad agencies and websites to do these sorts of things because not as many read the newspaper or buy magazines anymore and it is not as easy for advertisements to be paid attention to. That is why they are resulting to more targeting tactics like the ones we see in this exercise.

Online Assignment 4&5_Kuelbs

When I was looking through my archives in Facebook, I was surprised to see how far back it went.  A lot of history went back to 2008, which means I would have been in seventh or eighth grade.  It's surprising to follow how my interests have changed since then.  Also, I realized that the ads on Facebook are also based on what you have listed as interests.  This explains a lot of the ads that come up.  Also, I have realized that I actually have deleted a lot more friends than I thought.  It was also weird to see who I've friend requested and who never accepted me.  Overall though, as far as pictures go, nothing was too surprising because I edit my albums a lot on Facebook.  I also realized that I did not have many "events" to attend on Facebook before I went to college.  The majority of my events have been from the past year.
I thought the Google information was maybe even more interesting.  They had a lot right about me, like interested in college-related activities.  It also had a lot of information about the types of music I listen to.  Most of it was right, but it was heavy on Brazilian music.  It isn't that I listen to a ton of Brazilian music, but I have been in a Brazilian music class, which explains why I have been searching for it so much on Google and Youtube.  Also, it listed one of my languages as Portuguese, which is also only because I've been on a lot of websites in Portuguese because of the class.
I think the significance of going through this information is that whatever you are searching for online is always being analyzed.  Even if you spend a lot of time researching something that isn't directly related to your personal interests or life, this information is always being sought by advertisers.  This means that information about you is stored, even if it isn't exactly relevant to your life.  Also, I think it's important to note that there is a large history behind Internet users, especially on Facebook.  For many young people, who got their Facebook accounts young, this means that this information is with them for their whole lives online.  I think this is important to note because we should teach younger children to be mindful about what they post - so it doesn't come back to haunt them later.  However, this is difficult because many children don't see this as relevant to their lives immediately.

Online Assignment 4-5_Ryan Wenberg

Ryan Wenberg
J201 Sec. 310           
Online Assignment 4-5

When beginning this assignment, I expected it to be like the VALS assessment of me where they got all of the key information wrong. I was honestly shocked to see how close they were to what I believe are my interests. I will say however that Google was much more exact. They had narrowed it down to twenty-eight slightly broad subjects that they gathered I was interested in based on my searches. Almost all of them I agreed with aside from a few subjects that were clearly more related to me having to Google how to fix my electronics. Facebook seemed to be all over the place with the things they kept track of in terms of my interest. They seemed to have a million different key words to use when assigning ads to my account; some of them were related to things I actually was interested, but the rest were just segments of things that could only be related to something as insignificant as a post that I liked once three years ago. The vast amount of information that these two companies have about me is sickening, yet not surprising. In the digital society, I spend most of my time between these two websites. Google is my go to when I need to know or find anything and everything and Facebook is where I interact with my friends and family. These two cites should have all this information on me simply because I spent years developing these portfolios myself. The problem I face with it is the fact that this information that is supposed to be private is shared with advertisers. I look at it as the same as a doctor selling your personal medical records with pharmaceutical companies so they can sell us medication. It’s morally wrong in my opinion because Google and Facebook have developed into such a private industry when you look at how they are used; yet none of the information is private anymore now that it is being sold to the highest bidder. This new information actually is making me think that I need to be more careful about what I put out into the World Wide Web. While I don’t believe I have ever been fooled into buying anything from one of these advertisements, an article from the New York Times that was one of required reading states that 97% of internet users interact with just one of these online ad companies in any given month (Singer, 2012). That astonishes me and makes me think that while I do not feel that I am giving out any information that could be dangerous in the wrong hands, I feel as if I should tone it down and play it safe after this exploration.

Singer, N. (2012, November 17). Your Online Attention, Bought in an Instant. Your Online Attention Bought in an Instant by Advertisers. Retrieved December 10, 2013, from