Throughout my assessment of the information that Facebook and Google contain about me, I was actually more impressed with Google than Facebook. I think that’s partially because we all know and assume that Facebook has more information about us than we would be totally comfortable with, but we don’t post our own information on Google the same way we do on Facebook and this would likely lead to a less detailed profile of ourselves. However, Google’s assessment of my interests was surprisingly accurate, whereas Facebook did contain a lot of information about me but my personal interests were not really visible.
I assumed that Google would be able to accurately assess my age, gender, and first language, which they did. As for my interests, there were one or two that made no sense at all. For instance, reggae was one of them; I’m pretty sure I’ve never listened to reggae. Nonetheless, their overall list of my interests was very accurate and completely made sense to me when I considered the things that I look at on the Internet most often.
Despite the fact that I was certain Facebook would have an extensive amount of my personal information gathered, there were still a few things I saw that surprised me. As soon as I pulled up my archive, Facebook compiled my email address, full name, gender, birthday, hometown, current city, family members, and every relationship I’ve ever been in. In fact, it displayed all FOUR of my emails. That’s almost everything you should ever know about a person, and probably more than a lot of my friends know about me. Because I have my Facebook profile linked to my phone number, you could also view my entire list of contacts. I consider that not only an invasion of my privacy but also that of my contacts.
Of course, all of the pictures and videos I’ve posted since 2008 were visible, but this is no surprise. You could also view every party I’ve been invited to on Facebook as well as the date and location. That’s a lot of very specific information. If anyone was looking to know nearly everything about me, they could likely do it through Facebook and Google.
Regardless of how inappropriate it may seem for all of this information about us to be available via the Internet, I don’t think it will change the way I or most other members of my generation will conduct themselves online. We grew up being aware that having pictures of yourselves consuming alcohol online in high school will get you in trouble and that your future employers probably will look at your Facebook profile. Yet, many of us post things that elders or employers would view as inappropriate. I also don’t think many of us will make an extra effort to conceal personal information online – probably because we assume that it’s inevitable. No matter what your Facebook privacy settings are, everything you’ve ever posted is still floating around the Internet somewhere.