It is really surprising how much the Internet knows about what you do and who you are. Even more disturbing is that a lot of the time their inferences are correct. I looked up my Facebook data first, because I thought it would be less surprising considering the data on there is all things I have voluntarily offered up. However, I could not be more wrong. Between listing the past relationships that I have ever been in and archiving literally everything that I have ever said or has been put on my wall, I got the sense that Facebook knew more about me then I thought. It literally had recorded everything that I have ever done on its site, and apps that I have signed in through my Facebook account. I never considered that all the information that I had offered up would be kept in extensive archives, which was certainly a reality check.
The next thing I checked out was the link to the Google ads analysis page. I wasn’t very surprised that it knew my age range and gender but the interests category in both columns shocked me. In the “Ads on Google” category I had banking and recording industry as my two interests. Now I would definitely say this is an unrealistic idea of what my actual interests are. I simply use the Internet for all my banking because it is easier, and as for the recording industry I am not really sure why that was listed. But when I went to “Google Ads Across the Web” column my interests were much more accurate. I had a list of 19 interests including movies, music, shopping, and various genres of music. This was pretty accurate to my actual interests I can see why Google had made these inferences about me. However, there was also some weird interests like product review and price comparisons, online games, and colleges and universities. These weren’t as accurate, but I am guessing that based off of my search history they are a reflection of the sites I use on the Internet.
Life in a digital society is extremely unique and different than anything we have seen before. Not only do we allow the Internet to gather personal information about ourselves, but we also allow it to take that information and guide us in our digital use. Some may view it as a direct interruption of human free will, but others simply don’t care or know that their lives are being recorded and shared with others they don’t know. This may seem disturbing to many people who never grew up with technology but for younger generations, it just seems a necessary part of life. This exercise really showed me the extent of what we are putting on the Internet, which really shocked me. I had previously learned about how big search engines record your data and use it to pick ads it shows you, but it was a whole different experience seeing how it directly relates to my online footprint. I think this is an exercise that every person should do because it really makes it clear how you are seen online. This footprint is becoming more and more central to our lives as more things go online. Younger generations communicate and put their whole lives on the Internet for anyone to see and think they are invincible. But the truth is, no one can predict how their information is being used or who is viewing it. Until our society realizes this, they allow others to control their decisions just through the click of their mouse.