Friday, December 20, 2013

Online assignment 4 & 5, Marcus Shannon

Well I didn’t really know you could check all this stuff. I didn’t know that the internet had so much documented information on what it is that I look up. I saw that it said I was interested in four things most of all based on my search, it said based on websites I am interested in Movies, T.V. and video, sports, and parenting. I think all of these are quite accurate to who I am except for the parenting one, that just made no sense to me. Otherwise I watch a lot of TV shows and YouTube videos on the internet and I am huge into sports so I understand the rest. The ads that it shows that go along with my searches didn’t make a lot of sense to me though. I said banking, Fitness, hygiene and toiletries, and recording industry. I understood the fitness advertisement but I had no idea why the rest of them would be ads that I would want to see. I already have a bank and I don’t search for toiletries. The recording industry might be because of all the music that I listen to but that is just a guess. I was surprised it showed so much though. I thought that the amount of stuff the Facebook had off of my profile was crazy. It knew my wall activity who I talk to, what I post. They just keep tabs on all the stuff you do. It seemed like a more extreme version of what google did with my searches but instead they did it with my social media experience it was interesting to see that I am the same on both places.

It was a little troubling to me that they keep all of these taps on you as you search. I find it cool that they can describe me so well but it also kind of creeps me out that they keep so much data about you. I think that Facebook might have a little too much stored on a person. I know it’s already on your profile but what if you get rid of it, they will still have all of that information.  I just don’t know how I feel about a company having all this info on me either. I feel like businesses could find a way to start selling the things they know about you to other companies and I’m not so sure how I feel about that.  It just seems weird that every time I look something up company somewhere is trying to figure me out. I also feel like it could be defined as spying but it is the web and is anything really private when you are on the web. It’s not bad it’s just a little weird to think about. At this point though it seems like it is just being used to make your social media experience a little more to your liking. I guess this is just where the world is headed if we like it or not but it has its positives and negatives.  

Online Assignment 4 & 5, Coulson

I've never cared much about my Facebook account, I rarely post statuses and only use it when it's convenient so I was not surprised how little it knows about me. They had my event history and friend list obviously. I am not concerned about that at all. The information I downloaded didn't bother me at all. Message archives and wall history were expected as was my security and settings info. The only thing I found interesting was my ads info. I have AdBlock Pro installed on every device I own and access Facebook from so I do not see ads. The ad topics do not fit me at all. Bands, companies, and video games that I have never heard of are on my list. Some of the topics are pages that I have liked. My favorite Musicians and sports teams pepper the list. That doesn't concern me either, if I have to see ads I would prefer for them to be about things I am interested in. My ad history contains two items that I clicked. I do not remember clicking them.

Google 'knows' me a lot better than Facebook. My gender and age range are accurate, however my interests are not. East Asian Music is listed as one of my interests. I am certain I have never listened to East Asian music in my life. Reggaeton was also on my list. The only interest I have in reggaeton is my desire to have it scrubbed from earth. I despise reggaeton. It did not miss completely though. It listed different kinds of electronics, sports, and apparel that I am interested in. The majority of my list is inaccurate, however. Products like hair care, make up and hygiene products were on my list. Those things don't interest me. I have stuck with the same products for years, no change will happen any time soon. I expected Google to know more. I use it quite often, probably more than any other website so I was very interested in seeing what they knew.

It is safe to say that Facebook does not know me well. Google knows a little more, but not enough to actually concern me. I'm pretty tech savvy, so I do not worry too much about the internet and tracking. AdBlock prevents me from seeing ads or clicking on them. Companies learn a lot about users by what they click on. I don't have to worry about that. I stay up to date on what's going on in media and changing privacy policies so I think that also keeps me on my toes and prevents me from making the same mistakes others make.

Yonce's all on his mouth like liqua. JK this my online assignment, cool beans.

Taking the time to access and acknowledge the information that both Facebook and Google can access about me is somewhat unsettling but is not anything entirely new or shocking.  We are warned about being cautious with what we put online by everyone because there is a growing awareness of the dangers of stolen identities and privacy issues.  Growing up with the Internet, we have learned once we put something on the Internet, it is out in the world infinitely and it can never legitimately be deleted.
        Seeing Google’s decisions on my interests and whatnot have made it clear there are flaws within the algorithmic system.  Some of the things I Google are not done out of an interest but necessity for that knowledge, like things for classes.  It does of course indicate my interest in photography, but I don’t think it altogether knows me too well.  The idea that this information is used to personalize my ad experience is sort of flattering. My thought process on the idea of tailored ads as a whole being that as long as I have to look at it, I’d rather see ads for things I already like than something like, for example, football related.  I was actually sort of surprised that Google didn’t have a better handle on my interests what with all my online shopping and things.  Facebook and its archive of every conversation seems excessive. It just reaffirms that we must watch what we say on the web, regardless of who it is to or how private we believe it to be.  These websites having all sorts of information about what I like to do and etc. is definitely a sign of a new and digital age.  ­
In this age, we face similar problems as society did when television became the main form of media. There was a drive to study the effects, both long and short term of exposure and after a long run as an extremely successful medium, views began to tend toward the negative side about television and what it does to us; young people especially.  Although problems with the world wide web are not exactly the same, they are certainly similar. We are faced with a technology that is still new. We are unaware of its long term effects in regard to both how it affects us and our society.  I think we have been made to believe we are in control of our social media accounts and privacy online similarly to how we believe our vote counts in a presidential election: the appearance is what counts, but who has the money has the real power.

online assignment 4 and 5, Ayla Kress

After exploring the information that Google had on me I was a little disappointed, I expected Google to know a little bit more about me and Facebook a little less. Everything Google had was primarily gained through tracking my search results, activity, and other sources where as anything Facebook had I recall posting myself. The amount of information that they did have on me is still shocking, a lot of it was useless but the face that they can get this information is still shocking.
Google knew more of my interests where as Facebook had an abundance of private information: past relationships, family tree, age, places lived and traveled to among other things. I guess what surprised me most is that they save all of this information, often times I forget half of what they know about me. Facebook was more dead on about my interests in the past but simply because I “liked it on Facebook” and not because they gained the information themselves like Google.
Google knows me pretty well am much more currently, but seeing as it’s Christmas season they seem to think I like more “manly” things than I actually do; sorry Google, I’m just Christmas shopping for my father. They had a long compiled list of most of my favorite things, hobbies, or daily activities. I’m not surprised by this either, because I do spend a large amount of time on the web, looking up recipes or fueling my online shopping addiction it’s not surprising that they have all of this information on me.

Other than that I think Google had a pretty good grasp on who I am through my search results which makes me step back and think about how much I rely on technology… I don’t think seeing this makes me think about how I interact online but more about how much I do online. In today’s day in age you can’t survive in school or first world countries without a computer. It’s scary to think about and I kind of despise technology for how much of my life it sucks up, even know I’m more or less forced to be working on a computer to finish this blog post. Our life in digital society has become a bunch of people behind closed doors but posting their lives out there for the public, can we blame Google or Facebook for knowing so much about us when we’re the ones that are destroying our own privacy? I think its time we all unplug a little, especially during the holidays.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Online Assignment 4&5 - Patrick Cadle

      After looking over the results of my past internet history I was pretty impressed with how accurate of an idea Google had of myself. Im not very surprised by the fact Google had such a good idea of myself given that my searches are directly related to things I am interested in. Facebook on the other hand made me feel a little more unsettling because it literally had every conversation and form of interaction made by me throughout my history on the internet. All though it was fun to look back at my history and see old conversations, pictures, and videos I was tagged in, it gives me an uneasy feeling because it is almost like a form "eavesdropping". Nonetheless, I never really realized the magnitude of how much of my personal information was stored online, and how well of an idea some websites can have about their users.
      Google categorizes me as a male in between ages 18-24 and has a list of 75 subjects that I am interested it. All of the information google has on me is mostly accurate, besides a few interests that are random such as 'textile designs' and 'amusement parks' Google is spot on. Google has the majority of my hobbies listed such as 'athletics', 'music and dance', and 'fraternities'. Another thing Google got spot on in my interest section was every topic related to my major in school. I use Google quite frequently to  stay up to date on current events as well as to do research for education related purposes. I bet if a marketing team from Google sat down and analyzed my data results, they would be able to suggest websites of my interest, give me adds to products I have already purchased, and they could probably track down the university I attend, the major I have declared, and what fraternity I belong to. Although google has a massive amount of information on me as a person, I do not see this as an intrusive aspect. The data google has collected from me could be put towards my benefit as a user, and make my experience using google more efficient.
      Facebook on the other hand made me feel less comfortable with the amount of personal data they had on me. Unlike Google, Facebook had an abundance of personal information. The information they had stored on me was of personal conversations I had with other people. Google had a general knowledge of my interests and hobbies, but Facebook has a lot more personal data that gives them a better understanding of myself on an individual level. Facebook has a history of every conversation I have had, every comment I have posted, every link I have liked, every one of my Facebook friends, and even the material I have deleted or removed from my wall. To me the storage of this information feels invasive. I do not understand the purpose of keeping such an extensive history of every user. To what end does keeping this data accomplish?
      In todays digital society every action one takes online is acknowledged and recorded. It is impossible to have a completely private conversation online. One thing that I realized throughout this assignment was that I used my google account as the email for my Facebook account. I know google has partnerships with youtube and it is the same account I use for that. I am curious how corporations like Google and Facebook work with each other, if they even do, to use the data they have on their users for their own uses. I can see the potential for having some of the saved data online to be used to make one's online experience for efficient. But, the amount of information some website have on their users is just down right scary to me. Every email, instant message, iMessage, Facebook chat, comment, or post that you make online is recorded. I have a hard time wrapping my head around this, and I am not sure what implications it has on the freedom of speech. As it is my right to the freedom of speech, it is also my right to withhold my speech. I believe that holding mass amounts of data on peoples personal online activities can, in theory, undermine my first amendment right. It is public knowledge NSA and the American Government have been recording peoples online activities, but for some reason I just do not understand why they are going to such an extreme extent to record virtually every activity we take apart in. It is confusing for me as well as many other Americans and there is virtually no transparency within the system. It will be interesting to see what kind of policies are created with regards to monitoring online activity in the future.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Online Assignment #4-5, Sawyer Olson

            From what I observed from Facebook and Google, I was not very surprised with the content. I was expecting a much more in-depth record of my search history, recent purchases, old conversations from Facebook, and other detailed information. Google’s list of what I tend to be interested in seemed to be a collection of topics and trends I recently typed into the search bar. For example, the number one result was “Oldies and Classic Rock.” Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I am not an avid fan of this genre of music. Then how did this end up at the top of the list? Two weeks ago I searched, “A Hard Day’s Night opening chord,” in the Google search bar. At the beginning of this song by the Beatles, an obscure, complex chord is struck before the melody begins. After hearing this, I became interested in dissecting what instruments, notes, and techniques were used to produce this sound. What started as curiosity quickly turned into an hour-long search of multiple sources. As it turns out, what makes up this chord has been debated since the very first time it was heard by the public. In just one hour, I had searched and visited sites about the Beatles music multiple times. As a result, the algorithm likely running the Google search engine identified me as a person who enjoys “Oldies and Classic Rock.” As it says on the Google information page, the list is generated “based on the websites you’ve visited.” Also on the Google information site is another category of interests that is generated, “from your previous searches.” In this section, my top results were Athletic Apparel, Banking, and Bicycles and Accessories. According to About Google Ads, Google generates a list of what a user is interested in based on recent, previous searches related to your current search, and Google Web History. Overall, I was not troubled or surprised by any of the information Google had collected about me, and I do not believe Google knows me very accurately. Their history records and algorithmic targeting are not enough to have a realistic idea of who I am.  

            Facebook was similar in that nothing in the information troubled or surprised me; however, I was intrigued by the extent of the records Facebook had. Facebook had records of all my relationship status changes, “likes,” and conversations. The conversations that had been deleted by me were not available, but I now understand what it means to “Archive” a conversation. Although the conversation may vanish from the message bar, it is kept in the zip file of information that can be accessed at any time. I find this to be interesting because there have most likely been many court cases and legal disputes where these records were accessed and used as evidence for cyber bullying, stalking, or harassment. The availability of these records for this use is certainly a positive aspect of Facebook keeping track of every users activity. 

            For now, there is no reason to be concerned about the information Google and Facebook keeps about their users. Sadly, the same cannot be said when it comes to the American government.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Online Assignment #4-5: Jacqui Warner

As a student, I tend to spend a large amount of time online researching for papers and homework assignments I have been given.  A large amount of my free time is also spent online, going on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter as well as online shopping or just futzing around.  For these reasons, there is a large amount of data about myself within the Internet that both Google and Facebook have collected.  It was extremely interesting to view because both sets of data, that from Google and that from Facebook, were accurate in their predictions as well as surprising. 
            The data Google had compiled about me, based on what I have searched for in the past, was fairly accurate.  There was a list of my interests it had created and most of the interests listed were things I like or liked in the past.  It was in a way funny to look at because some of the interests were strange such as pet nutrition and recording industry.  I have no idea how they came to the conclusion that those were in my interest field because thinking back, I don’t recall searching for anything that was in those categories.  Looking at all of the interests it made me think back to what I have been searching for and how it could lead to defining my interests in the way that Google has.
            Looking at my Facebook history, it was interesting to see the way my use of the social media website has changed since I began using it in 2009.  One of the main things I noticed that has really changed is my use of apps.  There was a section in my Facebook data that displayed all of the Facebook apps I have used while my account has been active.  Honestly, more than half of the apps on the list I have no recollection of using and I’m positive I used in the beginning days of my time on Facebook.  There were a collection of quizzes that are extremely embarrassing to know that I took, one of them being “Who lives under your bed?”  I have no idea why I would even think to take this quiz, but I have changed a lot since I was a freshman in high school.  The more recent apps shown are apps that go along with websites that I have signed up on through Facebook such as Pandora, Spotify, Youtube, and so on. 

            It is amazing how much information there is about someone that has been stored and collected within the Internet.  It also extremely terrifying to think of because there are things that I look up on the Internet and post on the internet that are slightly embarrassing.  Also it is scary to think of what someone could do with the information that is collected, someone’s life could possibly be ruined by what someone else could find.  After seeing everything, I plan to be a lot more cautious in what I am putting out into the world wide web.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Online Assignment #4-5 Eden Willoughby

             When I explored what Facebook and Google, I was not in the least bit surprised they knew what they did. I recently made a new Facebook profile to start fresh and clear out the excessive “friends” I had on the account. Therefore, Facebook did not have as much information about me as Google. Nonetheless, the materials they both had to offer impressed me.
What I thought was most helpful and interesting about my Facebook data was that it gave me feedback on my “active sessions,” which I noticed mostly took place in the late afternoon to evening. The rest of the information was pretty standard, which included a list of my friends, pictures I had been tagged in, and messages between other Facebook users. The only categories that didn’t give me anything to work with were the “videos” and “synced photos” sections. One item that surprised me was the “ads” section, in which it only listed the “#University of Wisconsin-Madison” under “Ads topics,” and didn’t have anything listed under “ads history.” This is surprising to me because I thought that there would be many others listed in this category, but I’m also not completely certain on how they figure these “ads topics.”
When analyzing the data Google had to offer, I found that it was incredibly accurate. It was correct in guessing my gender, age, knowing that I spoke some French, and all of my interests. These interests included sports, colleges & universities, and social networks. One thing that it listed that I disagreed with was my interest in “golf,” I’m not sure where it got that data from because I’ve never played golf in my life. Besides that, nothing particularly surprised or bothered me, I don’t believe it’s that difficult to make assumptions about someone’s gender, age, or interests when you have all the data about their search results.
This storage of personal information raises the questions about if this information is being used, how it is being used, and who is using it. Referring back to Professor Wells’ lecture, these kinds of questions could contribute to the hypothesis of “digital dystopianism,” and relate to Eugeny Morozov’s “The Net Delusion.” Professor Wells explained arguments against the internet being an “enabler” of activism, citing Morozov’s “The Net Delusion” as an example, in which the book describes that whatever advantage grassroots activists gain from digital media, gains of repressive states will be greater. I can see how this could apply to Facebook’s data because it can monitor a user’s activity in organized groups, events that they may attend, and messages sent between other users. Basically, the same tools that are used for organizing groups are also used for surveillance.  This is not to say that this information is only useful for the government, but advertisers could gain from these materials as well, especially based on the account Google gave about my profile.

This activity did shift my thought about how I communicate and interact online. I can’t say that I’ll be making any changes in the way I use the Internet, but I am more wary of powerful organizations or the government having access to my personal information. The fact that websites are collecting such detailed data about their users imply that it is getting harder to remain “anonymous” on the Internet, and that nothing in the digital society goes unnoticed.