Thursday, December 19, 2013

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.

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