Thursday, December 12, 2013

Online Assignment 4&5_Bratton

In looking at the data that Facebook and Google have about me, I realized that these mega companies have highly strategic ways of connecting with me and attempting to advertise to me. They each put serious effort into compiling information about me and they actively use this information to connect with me.
I already knew that my Facebook use is rather extensive since I check it at least once a day and I have had a Facebook for a long time. However, I did not know that Facebook saved all of this usage to try and create a profile for me, outside of the profile that I create for myself. In some sense, it troubles me that I was unaware that the website had the capability but on the other hand, I am not surprised that the company goes out of its way to tailor advertisements and collect this information. It was also interesting to see that the suggested advertisements were based off of the interests I had expressed when I first set up my Facebook account. Now, these interests are outdated. This clearly has implications on the nature of the ads being outdated as well, for example, the film “Elizabethtown” from the 2000s.
Before doing this assignment, I did not know that Google collected this much information about me. I have never made an effort to enter much information into my Google account. Given this fact, seeing their assumptions about my interest was very surprising, especially since their assumptions were so accurate. Without me ever designating it, Google guessed that my favorite music is country music, that I am interested in Arts & Entertainment, and Colleges & Universities. Google clearly knows me more accurately, despite the fact that I use Facebook much more frequently. This must mean that their algorithm for collecting information based off of my searches of the internet is must more effective that Facebook’s method of collecting information based on what interests I have designated in the past.

After seeing all of the information that these two companies I realize that the digital media society is in fact a new paradigm. Companies can collect and save information and use it for good or bad and consumer’s trust of these companies, including my own, is often taken for granted. Especially with the current problem of the National Security Agency’s ability to request this information about Americans, I now know that these implications must be considered. Under the first Amendment, Americans have the right to freedom of association. If the government can request the information about your associations and prosecute you for it, this freedom is taken away. I think that in the near future there will be some major reforms of the government’s ability to collect this information that Facebook and Google collect.

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