Downloading and analyzing my Facebook and Google data was an enlightening experience to say the least. One of the most surprising aspects of the assignment for me was that I didn’t even know that I had this capability. Indeed it seems like sites such as Facebook and Google have an interest in keeping the extent to which they understand our preferences and personal information a secret. It seems like if this were geared solely for users they would advertise this capability. However, instead of advertising these features the respective sites hide them deep within their settings. Although users can still access this information, they would definitely have to know what they were looking for in order to find it.
One possible explanation for this would be that if consumers are aware of the ways in which they are being targeted, they will view ads on these sites more cognitively and critically and ads will be less effective. In fact, in the article about word labs the author says that these labs are only effective because constituents aren’t aware of the level of research and microdesign that goes into making a speech or campaign and so they don’t suspect that they are being microtargeted or specifically advertised to. Furthermore if constituents are aware of word labs and the techniques that they yield, the words become ineffective. In a similar way, if I know that Google knows my preferences, I wont be convinced when I see an ad that seems to be especially up my ally because I will suspect that it has been tailored specifically to convince me rather than if I happened to be a good consumer for a random ad.
Another interesting aspect of the assignment was how accurate the information about me was and how far back it went. I enjoyed going through my Facebook especially because it really gave the viewer a comprehensive view of who I was at any given time in my life, and presumably how to best target me as a consumer. It also was effective at capturing the changes I underwent as a consumer. I didn’t even realize how much I’ve changed since I started using Facebook, from physical growth and clothing style to even just the way in which I b typin u feel me? Lol. The Google data on my interest was similarly insightful. I thought it was ironic that my number one interest was “Advertising and Marketing” because that could definitely be a bi-product of my internships, personal blogging, and taking this class.
An interesting implication of this type of data that I realized in writing this reflection is it’s use in developing accurate representations of ones self. This data is so accurate that I feel like it portrays me, in a certain sense, almost better than I could. For example, I wrote a personal statement as part of my Journalism School application basically that I am interested in advertising and marketing. But I could have been lying because I know that’s what they want to hear! However, if the Journalism School simply viewed my google consumer profile they could see that I genuinely am interested in it or at least am looking for information in the area so much so that it would be my number 1 interest. I think consumer profiles like this have interesting implications because its much harder to misrepresent yourself and make yourself look better than you are than it is on a resume or personal statement.