Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Online Assignment #4/#5 - Brendan Fellenz

            Upon looking at the information that both Google and Facebook have acquired about me, I was quite taken aback.  As an Internet consumer, I am fully aware that there are some records of my activity online, however I was unaware as to how much of my life information is in the hands of some of these major Internet companies.  I found it both intriguing and also intimidating that I could view so much of my past activity online in such a comprehensive format.
            The first place I ended up looking was at Google’s inferences.  They guessed my age range and gender correctly, which I assume could have been gathered from my Gmail records.  Also, based on my searches they thought that I spoke four languages.  They were right about Spanish, English, and French, and although I don’t speak German, I have been taking a class with a lot of German translation and terminology. 
I found the interests column on Google to be the most surprising of their deductions.  Although most of their ideas were fairly broad, such as Music and Movies, many of their more specific thoughts were also correct.  Among these were Concerts & Music Festivals and the Recording Industry, both of which I am captivated by and research frequently.  Although there were some inaccuracies, such as where they said I might enjoy Finance and Reggaeton music, a majority of the categories that they had placed me into were very close to reality.
            When I moved on to looking at my Facebook activity, I was impressed by the wealth of information they had compiled and how easy it was to navigate through my past.  Most of the general information about my interests and demographics was expected, as well as the past pictures and videos I had posted.  But the amount of information they had about my history on using the actual site was incredible and a bit unnerving. 
I scrolled through my entire wall history on Facebook, and was shocked at how intricate it was.  It didn’t just show the posts I had made or the messages written on my wall.  It had a record of every friend request, like, and tag that I had been a party to.  I find this extremely intimidating.  Another aspect of the information that shocked me was the history of relationships.  They had my past girlfriends, family members, deleted friends, and every single message conversation I have ever had with someone on Facebook.  I find it both amazing and scary that they keep this much information about their users.
Overall, I thought it was mind-blowing to see the information on both sites.  Although it was fun to look back at some of my activities and see interests more categorized, I have to wonder how much more of my information is out there.  I can’t really control what is already on the Internet, but next time I post or tweet or do anything online, I’ll be sure to think twice before clicking “Send”.    

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