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.

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