Thursday, December 12, 2013

Online Assignment 4-5_Markham

                Initially, when viewing the data that Facebook had saved about me I was not too surprised. All the information was profile info that I had entered. When I finally clicked on some of the other categories, I noticed that there were extensive records of my activity on Facebook over years and years. They had everything from my comments and photos, to the addresses of houses I was going to for an event. I think this is what I was most shocked about. It was a little uncomforting to see addresses, times, and people I was with from the beginning of my usage of Facebook until now.

                Although Facebook recorded my past, I was more impressed with the Google statistics about me. They are able to infer what kind of person I am based on what I enter into the search bar, and were pretty accurate. They understood a lot of my interests, including fitness, movies, music, and outdoor life. However, Google is limited on how accurately they can describe me because they can only infer based on what I have searched. There are certain topics that are more searchable than others, which could give a false perception of favorite interests of a person. For example, Google thought that I was more interested in Spanish than I am in something like Fishing because I do not search Fishing tips as much as I do for Spanish papers.

                Personally, all of this information being stored makes me question how my personal information is being used. I am not using this database of my past for my own use, so who is? This reminds me of Eugeny Morazov’s The Net Delusion, in which he argues that the internet is more useful in empowering the authorities than the common citizen (Wells, 2013). This was a slight tweak on his original message that whatever advantages activists gain from digital media, repressive states will gain more. This stored information of me makes me believe this Digital Dystopian view since the only people that would need my information are people like the NSA. Of course, this information may be useful to advertisers, but do they need to know what my favorite music was in middle school?

                There is no practical use for keeping 6 year old information of a person in archives. If digital media truly exists to help foster education for all, then the information available should pertain to that goal. It is a little bit scary to know that everything that occurs online is saved, and we don’t know if or when it will be used again. This makes me weary of the communications we have online. People have always told me to be careful of what I post on sites like Facebook, but until actually viewing these records, I did not know the extent to which they record everything you do.



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