As I know Facebook is a social media platform to share personal and private messages to friends, family, and even strangers, I was unaware that Facebook now enables users to download the data that Facebook has about them. While downloading my data, I have to say I was a bit skeptical of this process although I ultimately knew it was a silly gesture to think of this as creepy, considering I am the one willing to share my photos and thoughts with many people, including some I don’t even associate with on a monthly or yearly basis. However, I found this to be very interesting just like the information that Google has about me. Based on what Google knows about me, the inferences it makes contains some interests that describe who I am as well as many that don’t. In any case though, I am glad I had the opportunity to learn how to explore and analyze my digital media presence on these two major digital media platforms with an educational view.
The first digital media platform I explored was the popular and ever so distracting Facebook. Facebook is a place to express ones opinions, accomplishments, post photos of meaningful times, and ultimately a place to have that connection to family and friends that live far away. While looking at what information Facebook has gathered about me, most of it came to no surprise. Of course I found it a little astonishing that a digital media platform could know certain specific information about me, but in a sense I allowed for Facebook to have that information. I was more shocked not on what information Facebook provided about me, but more on the process of how it all linked together and formed conclusions on who I was and what I liked, which was seen within the Ads file. Although this file presented advertisements that have showed up on my Facebook, I was at awe while looking at the certain ones I clicked on as I realized the majority of the ads were related to the topics I would post about.
The second digital media platform in which I explored was Google. I was certainly impressed with this site that provided what information or areas I am particularly interested in, which are all based on certain information they have about me on this account. Most of the interests did indeed describe my exact interests, whether it was face and body care, advertising marketing, or fashion modeling. However, there were some outliers that popped up, including computer hardware, finance, and politics. I do believe that Google is less accurate than Facebook due to the fact that I use Facebook to express my ‘real’ interests, and I use Google as my main search engine for school projects and other related educational purposes. In that sense, the interests that were not my personal interests, such as politics, was due to the fact that I took a Political Science course this semester. So, Google misunderstood this research and related it to who I was as a person. Although that information is wrong, the process Google went through to gain those perceptions of who I am, was impressive and wasn’t necessarily wrong.
This experience was truly eye opening for me and I enjoyed being able to look at this information and then being able to actually reflect on what I observed. Although nothing of this search/exploration particularly troubled me, I did find this whole process and exploration surprising, as I didn’t know that these data collections of just me existed within the digital media platforms of Facebook and Google. What was definitely surprising to me was seeing how Facebook recalled and brought up everything I did, including different posts, relationships, videos, and things I ‘liked’.
While I did this search it led to my connection to the Advertising section within this course as well as Chris Wells’ research study I participated in. This study dealt with political posts and relevant advertising on politics that are in turn posted on my page if I post/share about that topic. As I do not share and post about politics, I noticed that no political advertisements are seen on my Facebook Newsfeed; therefore, this is why Facebook did not mention any unrelated interests or advertisements that are not describing my true interests. This is due to the fact that advertisements are presented online due to the person’s purchases and posts they make. Although I don’t have any interest in politics, Google said I did due to my previous researches. In this case, I find Facebook to be more accurate in regards to which digital media platform knows me better.
The information provided through Facebook and Google accurately showed what information I am personally exposing on/within the digital society. However, my observations/analysis further proves that some digital media platforms are much more accurate in showing what someone’s true interests are, and this is due to whether it is a more personalized account such as Facebook and Twitter, or if it is an open ended search engine such as Google and Yahoo. However, this experience does not affect what I communicate and how I interact online, as I am already well aware of what I decide to post and/or search. Overall, this experience didn’t cause any surprises to me; however, I was very impressed and interested in what was being presented.