Thursday, December 19, 2013

Online Assignment 4&5_Mogck

I think everyone knows that Google and Facebook keep information stored about them, but to find out the extent of that information is truly enlightening. Google had much less information about me than Facebook, but for the most part the information they did have was decently accurate. Facebook on the other hand, has much more information, some of which I knew such as my past messages and uploaded photos, but other content that I was unaware of such as detailed security information. It was rather interesting to explore what Google and Facebook consider my interests to be.
To Google, I am a 18-24 year-old female who speaks English. That is all correct, but what was truly interesting about Google's ad information was to see what Google considers my interests to be. Most of the interests Google identified made sense to me, if I wasn't actually interested I could understand why Google might think I am. A few however, I could not understand such as 'Parenting', 'Rock Music', and 'Urban and Hip Hop'. In my memory I can't remember searching much about either of those topics, but they still appeared in my interests according to Google. That makes me curious as to how they ended up there.
Facebook, as I mentioned before, had much more saved information on me than Google. Most of these weren't that interesting to me, because of course I am aware of what photos and videos I have uploaded to Facebook. What I did find interesting was looking at what Facebook considers my ads topics. The list of topics was rather long, and also rather specific.  While some of the topics I could definitely identify with, others seemed to be things that I may have only clicked on once, yet it still ended up as an ads topic for me.  Facebook also keeps a record of which ads you've clicked which consisted of actual page's posts as well as the advertisements on the side of the page. I find it interesting that Facebook considers pages you've liked as sources of ads. 
  This assignment makes it clearer that one must be careful with what they share on the internet, because it is likely to be stored somewhere forever. I am lucky enough to not have posted anything incriminating before, but there are others who have. Most people are aware that they shouldn't post certain details of their life on the internet but I think this assignment points out just how much information is stored on you and why you should be careful of what you post. I myself, will probably not change the way I interact with the internet much, because everything I found between Google and Facebook I was mostly aware of already. There are people however, who post to much about themselves that may think it wiser to put less information out there about themselves. It was interesting to see how Google and Facebook advertise to me, put I don't think this is too much of a problem. There will always be advertisements no matter what media you consume, so it doesn't bother me that internet advertisements are just more specific to what I like.

Online Assignment 4_Miller

For a while, I have known that both Google and Facebook have the ability to determine who I am by the websites I view or by my status updates or things I “liked” on Facebook. What was surprising to me was how much information they had collected and how similar it was to who I actually am.

                Both Google and Facebook could pretty easily identify that I am a massive sports fan. The interest based on the websites I visit were about 1/3 sports related, with other interests thrown in like academics, classic rock and rap music, or TV shows and movies. I found the list of interests by website visited to be a much more accurate representation than the list of interests by what I search for which doesn’t surprise me in the least. Sure, I search for a lot of things I’m interested in, but I guess I have a general curiosity about a wide array of topics or if I’m with friends and someone brings up an unfamiliar topic, I’ll likely google it then or later, but I’m not likely to frequent those sites after I find what I’m looking for. Some of these “interests” certainly aren’t things that I’m even interested in such as punk music or paintball.

                What really surprised me was how much information Facebook had about me, including my phone contacts. I’m a frequent user of the mobile Facebook app, but was unaware they were able to collect information like my contacts. I feel like that is an invasion of privacy and I guess I’m not entirely sure why that is useful to Facebook because I don’t think you can tell someone’s character or what he or she might be interested in from the contacts. I have noticed however, even before doing this assignment, that Facebook does tailor it’s ads effectively towards me. I’ve noticed a lot of ads for sporting events which certainly caters to me very well.

                I’m not totally surprised by how much information these two sites have gathered, especially in lieu of the recent NSA on goings. I do think a line could be drawn, more so with Facebook’s acquisition of my phone contacts, but at the same time I certainly won’t stop using Facebook because I like to feel connected to friends and family. I just hope that information like this is only used to target certain ads in my direction and that it won’t be seen by others. I knew these sites gathered lots of info about me, but it was very interesting to see just how much information they had about me.

Online Assignment 4 Sivilotti

During the second half of this class, it is clear that media plays a huge role in our lives. More specifically for my generation, social media plays a crucial role in our day to day life. I joined Facebook my freshmen year in high school, and have been an active member for about six years. When you post things, many people do not consider what they are putting out to the world, but when all of the data that you have ever shared is condensed into one file, it is amazing to see the profile they are able to create. While the information they have collected isn’t necessarily shocking or alarming, it is interesting to be able to scroll through this file and see literally everything you have either sent or received using the website. The most interesting part about the facebook file, in my opinion, is to see the evolution and consumption of media on facebook. When I first started my account, I was much more active with comments, messaging, and sharing pictures. In comparison, most of my faceook activity now consists of looking at things my “friends” have shared.

Surprisingly, I found the information google had collected to be much more interesting. Some of the information they had such as my name, age and gender had come directly from my google account, but the interests portion fascinated me. Unlike on facebook, the interest section on google comes from what google thinks you are interested in rather, than what you actually “like” online. This is compiled from what you search for and the type of websites you visit. While some of the areas of interest, are things that I do care about, most of them are just generated from what I search. Most of my interests come from academic related sources and include “chemistry, politics, and finances.” While these are things that I commonly do search for on google, they are not necessarily in the top 25 things I am interested. The fascinating thing about google, is that overall, they can get a pretty accurate description of you as a consumer simply by the things you search and click on. This helps advertisers to strategically target their desired audience, which is a brilliant strategy to make money.

This assignment is a great example of how advertisers can really narrow down their focus audience, and also how our consumption of media continues to evolve. The internet is constantly changing, and expanding to new heights that many cannot. If websites can already generate these profiles on us based on things we search for, what will be the next breakthrough? If people already deem this as an infringement on privacy, will the intrusion just continue get worse? This assignment really made me see that while a google search or facebook post may seem innocent, there are people who care about your online activity and targeting you for their own benefit.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Online Assignment 4&5_Mueller

I was aware previous to this assignment of the tracking techniques and information both Google and Facebook kept of their users. With that being said, I did not know how expansive the amount of information was and to what degree the companies kept information. I am a daily user of Facebook and just recently created a Google account strictly for the email account and ease of video chatting with more than one person simultaneously.
            My exploration into Google was a rather easy one. Google advertises to me when I use search, Gmail, Youtube, and Maps. It has acquired that I am a male between the ages of 18-24. The interesting fact is that Google believes my interests are in the recording industry and Reggaeton music. I am not sure where this has been acquired, because although I am extremely passionate and interested in music, my favorite genres are R&B and Rap. I do not ever listen to Reggaeton music or search for information about the genre. If this is the information Google is using to advertise to me, it is going to be highly ineffective. Google gets paid off of the amounts of clicks on their advertisements through search engine optimization, but they will be unsuccessful targeting me this way.
            On the other hand, my exploration into Facebook yielded more results. Facebook had an extensive list of posts to my wall, all of my photos and events, and message correspondence with people dating back about a year and a half. I had assumed they kept track of all of that data seeing as anyone who is friends with me could do the same. What I did find interesting was the fact that Facebook kept a record of my contacts in my phone through using their app. Even more surprising was that they track every time I login, log out, what browser I am using, what type of computer, my IP address, and the coordinates of where I am using my computer at. To me, this information was far more startling because although I understand why they track my use of their website, having my contacts from my phone and tracking my location I found to be an borderline invasion of privacy. Facebook also uses my interests and pages I have liked on Facebook at one time to target ads towards me. Things like Beyonce, Rap Music, Buffalo Wings, Sports, and College basketball were just some of the buzz words used to target advertisements towards me.
            In all, I cannot necessarily say I am extremely surprised by discovering these things. Website tracking is nothing new – the reason for inventing cookies – and should come as no surprise to anyone after the NSA’s leak on tracking phone conversations and Internet use that was broken by Wikileaks. The NSA had to get their information from somewhere, which can be reasonably deduced that the information came from the websites themselves. I think it will be interesting in the future to see how, if at all, tracking and privacy changes. 

Online Assignment 4/5_Kaplan

            Downloading and analyzing my Facebook and Google data was an enlightening experience to say the least. One of the most surprising aspects of the assignment for me was that I didn’t even know that I had this capability. Indeed it seems like sites such as Facebook and Google have an interest in keeping the extent to which they understand our preferences and personal information a secret. It seems like if this were geared solely for users they would advertise this capability. However, instead of advertising these features the respective sites hide them deep within their settings. Although users can still access this information, they would definitely have to know what they were looking for in order to find it.
One possible explanation for this would be that if consumers are aware of the ways in which they are being targeted, they will view ads on these sites more cognitively and critically and ads will be less effective. In fact, in the article about word labs the author says that these labs are only effective because constituents aren’t aware of the level of research and microdesign that goes into making a speech or campaign and so they don’t suspect that they are being microtargeted or specifically advertised to. Furthermore if constituents are aware of word labs and the techniques that they yield, the words become ineffective. In a similar way, if I know that Google knows my preferences, I wont be convinced when I see an ad that seems to be especially up my ally because I will suspect that it has been tailored specifically to convince me rather than if I happened to be a good consumer for a random ad.
Another interesting aspect of the assignment was how accurate the information about me was and how far back it went. I enjoyed going through my Facebook especially because it really gave the viewer a comprehensive view of who I was at any given time in my life, and presumably how to best target me as a consumer. It also was effective at capturing the changes I underwent as a consumer. I didn’t even realize how much I’ve changed since I started using Facebook, from physical growth and clothing style to even just the way in which I b typin u feel me? Lol. The Google data on my interest was similarly insightful. I thought it was ironic that my number one interest was “Advertising and Marketing” because that could definitely be a bi-product of my internships, personal blogging, and taking this class.
An interesting implication of this type of data that I realized in writing this reflection is it’s use in developing accurate representations of ones self. This data is so accurate that I feel like it portrays me, in a certain sense, almost better than I could. For example, I wrote a personal statement as part of my Journalism School application basically that I am interested in advertising and marketing. But I could have been lying because I know that’s what they want to hear! However, if the Journalism School simply viewed my google consumer profile they could see that I genuinely am interested in it or at least am looking for information in the area so much so that it would be my number 1 interest. I think consumer profiles like this have interesting implications because its much harder to misrepresent yourself and make yourself look better than you are than it is on a resume or personal statement.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Online Assignment #4

Looking through my downloaded Facebook profile, it was honestly a little weird to see how much information they have saved. I knew they’d have the pictures, videos, friends, and status updates. Even the instant messages and events from years ago were right there. It was a blast from the past to say the least. A lot of the information they kept track of was pages I’d liked when I first made the account. There was a lot of outdated information and things that aren’t really relevant to my Facebook profile today. But every time you log on, including the place, the technological device, the time, the date, was a little weird to see documented. It was also surprising and a bit disturbing to see every person you’ve defriended, and every ad you’ve clicked on. It didn’t trouble me too much see these histories. In a way, it makes sense for a site like Facebook to automatically keep track of them.
As for Google, I think they were on track. They had tracked some specific ‘Interests’ of mine that are pretty accurate. These include apartments and residential rentals (looking for apartments for next year), folk and traditional music (I like indie/folk music), photo and image sharing (I edit lots of pictures using online tools), TV shows and programs (I watch television online often), Wisconsin (obviously), and writers’ resources (for writing papers throughout my high school and college career). The majority of my ‘Interests’ listed were related to music, videos, television, and media. This is really accurate because the majority of my internet consumption is related to these topics. I spend lots of time looking up music, watching videos on YouTube, watching television online, etc. Google did have some interests wrong—sports, hip-hop, rap, news, hotels and accommodations, air travel. I don’t frequently look into or search for these things, and it probably just picked up on it from random times I’ve had to look for them. But honestly, all of the interests listed are all generally broad topics that many people could relate to, and it didn’t really trouble me that Google had tracked these interests.
Although looking through the information Facebook and Google have on me wasn’t that disturbing, life in the digital society is a scary thought. There is so much opportunity for the surveillance and monitoring of internet users, and essentially everything we do is tracked. I’m not too scared for my future as a frequent internet and social media user. I think we’re growing up in a generation that’s aware of what the internet is capable of. As long as we’re wary of what we’re posting online, especially important personal information, we don’t have much to worry about.

Online Assignment 4 and 5_Salileng

Sam Salileng
Online Assignment 4&5

A HUGE blast from the past

My initial reaction from analyzing my Facebook archive is that I want to travel back in time, meet myself during my late middle school and early high school years, and then punch myself in the face. After accepting the embarrassment that my archived information had provided me, I came to the realization that my digital footprint is not as clean or professional as I would like it to be. My personal Facebook during the period from 2008-2010 is littered with unprofessional, inappropriate and pointless statuses. I thought myself to be more mature and literate during my early teenage years and apparently that was not the case. It’s amazing how Facebook can tell my story and reflect the natural maturation process of myself as a person. It’s also amazing how smart advertisers on Facebook are in determining what kind of person I am. All of the ads that I have seen directly relate to the way I interact or have interacted with Facebook in the past.

I did enjoy going back through all of my pictures and reliving each memory snapped in each photograph. Reminiscing about each message and wall post did provide a great study break as well. My interests have also generally remained the same as I can confidently say I do still enjoy the things that I’ve “liked” in the past. While these aspects of Facebook are great for the sake of nostalgia and hilarity, they do not bode well for my digital image towards potential employers in the future.

Since I’ve set up a Google+ account in the past, it didn’t surprise me that Google already knew I was a male aged 18-24. It’s peculiar that Google did not know my main language was English, however, and this leads to the next aspect of the analyzed information which was “Interests.” My interests were all over the place and more times than not, Google swung and missed. Google believed I was interested in things such as “Hair Care, Make-Up & Cosmetics, Hygiene & Toiletries, Celebrities & Entertainment News,” and my personal favorite: “East Asian Music.” As a business major, it was expected that some of my interests included “Banking, Credit & Lending, Finance and Marketing.” These results were not what I expected, and I was very surprised when I saw the results under interest. Looking back it, I’m happy Google couldn’t determine who I actually am.

After going through these results, I do not believe that I will change the way I communicate online. I have already shifted my attitude towards social media and I’m much more careful about my privacy settings and what I say and do on the web. For many people, however, these results most likely coincided with who they are and who they think they are. Life in a digital society has given companies the ability to profit from simple things such as “likes” on Facebook and allow them to cater their ads to specific people since they sometimes have access to personal information. With organizations such as the NSA being able to monitor online traffic and “spy” on you, you always have to wonder who exactly has access to your information and digital footprint. One thing is certain though. Whoever has access to mine will have the greatest time in the world following my journey in life through the eyes of the Internet.

Finally, unrelated to this assignment, I attach this video. We had to practice embedding videos onto our posts early in the year and since we've never got a chance to actually do that, I'm utilizing all of my talent through this last assignment.

Online Assignment 4/5

PJ Feichtmeier
Online Assignment
December 17, 2013

            For the online assignment we were required to download all of the information both google and facebook have about us.  My google account is relatively new, and what little information google had on it about me I did not find that startling.  It was facebook who proved to be an expert on me as a person. 
At first I thought this would be boring and I would simply see what I already see on facebook, the stuff all over my wall and chats.  However I was extremely surprised at what facebook had to offer.  After downloading my facebook information, which took over a day, I began sifting through what they had.  It shocked me to find out they had logs of every message I had sent to somebody since I had created my account.  Not only did it have the context of the messages, it also had the time and date.  The information continued to surprise me as I found out that facebook also had information on whether or not I had accessed it through a mobile device or a computer.  It also had information on all my posts, pokes, pictures, comments, and friends.  I was startled to find out how easy it was to download all of this information, and that all someone needed to do was get my password and they would be able to do this.  I think this is rather concerning as I don’t see why anyone would ever need this much information about a person, let alone their personal details about their facebook and conversations with other.  It also got me thinking about the web in general.  Some of the information that showed up I had deleted a long time ago, things such as comments, pictures, and personal chats.  However, facebook was able to retrieve all of this information with rather ease, and put it into the lift of information in its correct spot.  This scared me because even though the information had been deleted, in some cases for years, facebook still had it.  This made me wonder if deleting information on the Internet really “deletes” it. 
            This information also brought up the issue of privacy for me.  If facebook is able to retrieve all of this information that means that they must have it stored somewhere.  This is a scary thought since if someone at facebook wanted to, they could release people’s personal information, look at it for themselves, or sell it to advertisers or other people/companies willing to pay for it.  Also, the fact that it gave me a log conversations showing what other people said to me, it means that other people would be able to retrieve a conversation that I had with them and see what I had to say.  This is concerning because it is very possible that one person might not want the conversation revealed.  I believe that there is no use for the information, and when a user deletes it, it should be deleted permanently, rather than archived.  In the future I will definitely watch what I put out there carefully, as I have seen that it can come back even years later. 

Online Assignment 4_Wedge

Brandon Wedge
Online Assignment

            Wow was the first word that came to my mind after receiving the results from both Facebook and Google. It was simply amazing to see exactly what information Facebook and Google had on me. Both platforms offered a lot of information about myself, even the stuff that I thought I had lost or deleted off of Facebook or Google history. The platforms contained a lot of information, Facebook had a lot of personal information while Google almost matched my demographic information.

            Google was the first platform that I analyzed. Google was able to determine that I was between the ages of 18-24, seemed to speak two languages (English and Spanish), and searched everything from food to universities. Most of Google’s conclusions were very accurate; I do enjoy sports, food, and current events. They were able to see that I like to keep up in the world, but not really through world events, but the country. I also see why they drew the other conclusions, but I would not say those were nearly as accurate. Yes I did search a lot for Spanish related words, but that was mostly to translate the words that I did not know. I also did some research on places to live near and around Madison, but that is just recent activity not so much what I am always searching for. The conclusion that confused me the most was the conclusion that I am near the Chicago area. I did not understand how they came to this conclusion, maybe because I am a huge Chicago sports fan, but then I would not really be interested in Madison area housing? There were a total of 16 other interests that Google compiled, most were quite accurate, some pertained to my most recent activity. The most recent activity had to do a lot for this class. It showed a lot of research on entertainment, video games, etc. Overall, I was stunned by how much information Google was able to compile just through my search history. It really makes you think about what exactly goes on through the web and may make you think twice about searching.

            Facebook grabbed my interest just a bit more. I have had an account on many social networks (Myspace, Facebook, Twitter) since about the seventh grade. Facebook had tracked nearly everything since that time until present day. Every profile, setting, and security change had all been tracked. All the posts, comments, pictures and places had been recorded to date as well. I could not believe that even though I had deleted some of the comments myself or gotten rid of a few pictures, they still had them recorded. It was sort of nice to look through some of the old pictures that I had and see how much my friends and myself had grown over the years. At the same time, it was also very alarming to see how much information had been recorded such as times, places, and dates. That information seemed to be forgotten when I posted about the event, but is scary to look back at now.

            Just like Google, it really makes you think secondly about what you may post online and exactly what information you put out there. That being said I do not believe I will change the way I use either cite. Google is a great tool for myself to help answer the questions I have quickly and efficiently. Facebook is also something I do not use nearly as much anymore because I most am on Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. This assignment was very interesting and I am glad I did the analysis because I don’t think I would have ever known this information was tracked by these platforms.

Online Assignment #4 Doss

As per the assignment, I downloaded my Facebook advertising information and I took a look at the Google compilation as well.  While both contain some useful information about my web presence and interests, neither were speciic enough or detailed to the point I presumed they would be.  Much of the Facebook information was simply a list of the interests I entered in when I first created my account.  This results in some very outdated music and movie tastes according to my profile, stuff I was listening to in middle school.  Advertising featuring these artists isn’t very likely to sway me anymore. Another sub par portion of the Facebook information was the family section; it only listed family members that have rewquested to add me as family members.  It didn’t include my mother, father, or brother, only my middle-school aged cousin (who is only my friend on facebook because she wouldn’t stop complaining about her unheeded friend request).  Onto parts of the profile that were actually useful: the contact info was correct, listing all of my email addresses I use on the internet, along with several phone numbers which have all been used by me.  The messages log shows all messages nboth sent and received by me, which showed me how I essentially talk to one friend back home entirely on facebook, due to our propensity to share music or links.  By far the most interesting part of the Facebook profile was the breakdown in how I am accessing facebook, showing my sessions from either my mobile device or my laptop. I can see when I went home for thanksgiving, when I checked facebook on the way home (due to the location of Hudson, WI), and even when I check facebook on my girlfriend’s laptop.  
The Google profile was much of the same: listing over 160 interests for me based on my searches.  These run the gamut from Action films to building toys (Legos?) to Childrens literature to independent music to martial arts to online video.  There is way too much here, and in much too general of terms, to be of any use to an advertiser.  I suspect that both Google and Facebook have much more detailed information that they withhold due to how personal and direct it is.

Overall, this assignment had little impact on how I perceive the digital trail I leave behind.  While I certainly view the NSA bulk spying as unconstitutional and as an infringement upon my rights, I don’t fear for anything.  I, unlike some in less democratized countries, don’t have to be wary of anti-government or radical views I tout online.  I can do that, knowing I wont suffer extraordinary rendition to a underground torture facility in Azerbaijan.  Until people start disappearing and the repression reaches higher levels, I have little concern for my online impact.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Online Assignment 4-5_Trainor

                 I have no doubt that most people will be very shocked by the results that they receive doing this assignment. However, I’m not really surprised at all with the accuracy that Google has predicted my interests and the amount of data that Facebook archives. I will never be surprised when I see the amount of effort that businesses put in to try to make a profit. If I was in their position, my stance would be that if we have the means to do it, then why not? Every business is looking for that added edge which will make them better than their competitors. In Google’s case, they want to maximize the effectiveness of their advertisement spots.  With Facebook, they want to store as much information as possible in the even t that it will be useful to them with future enhancements to their site. I am completely fine with both of these positions. Most importantly, you aren’t forced to go online and subject yourself to these companies trying to learn more about you. If you don’t like it, then don’t go on the internet. The internet is very useful to humanity and democracy, as we have learned, but the ability to utilize it is not an inalienable right that should be protected from these businesses.

                My personal interests presented by Google were spot on, with the exception of my age. It listed me as 25-34 which is frankly close enough. I was not surprised to see all the different sports interest that it assumed I liked. It listed almost every sport there is and similar activities that involve them. The most interesting interest that it gave me was the state of Utah. This may seem somewhat odd to an outsider, but it makes sense to me, even though I have never lived there and have only been inside its borders once. I am a beat writer for the Utah Jazz for and consequently read Utahan newspapers almost every day to keep up with the team and their day to day activities. This was the only entity listed that caught me off guard and made me realize how acute Google is at determining what goes on in your life. 

                I don’t think that knowing these results will change the way that I communicate online. I think that I am already pretty conservative with data that I present for people to see regarding Facebook and I actually like that Google tries to peg me as a person. I think that Google has actually helped me find content online and even provided me with advertisements that I have been happy to be exposed to. My only problem lies with the potential for all this information to get in the wrong hands. As I have stated, I don’t really care that my profile is being kept by businesses, but I would really be discouraged if it caused me personal harm because it fell in corrupt arms.