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 There was a lot of outdated information and things that aren’t really relevant to my Facebook profile today.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.