Ever since taking this class my eyes have been opened to how companies like Rubicon data mine information from Internet users and then sell it to advertisers. I thought it was remarkable that within milliseconds of me being on the Internet my information can be traced and used by advertisers. So naturally, being astonished with this, I was very excited to do this assignment. While rummaging through the information provided by Facebook and Google, some things made sense to me while others came as a surprise.
In regards to Facebook, a lot of what I saw made sense. In my profile and contact section, it listed things like my email, birthday, gender, hometown, past employers, music interests, favorite athletes, etc. It made sense that all information I just listed was found, because throughout my interactions with Facebook I inputted that data. Then I moved on to the tabs marked: wall, photos, synced photos, videos, and messages. In all honesty instead of me finding anything worthwhile that advertisers could use, I ended up going on an exploration of my past through Facebook. Nothing came as a shock to me until I stumbled upon the ads tab. It showed about 10 ads I clicked in the last few months and what surprised me was the ads that appeared. Some ads like Minnesota Corrugated Box and Elect Howard Goldstein, were things I clicked by mistake, when Coin and Call of Duty Ghost appeared, I realized how well Facebook knows me. I’m not quite sure how Facebook knew to generate these specific ads for me but they did a great job. Both Coin and Call of Duty: Ghost are things I am highly interested, yet I’ve never typed them in to the Facebook search engine.
I was even more surprised with the results from Google and what they did and did not know about me. Although minor, I thought it was pretty cool that Google could guess that I am between the ages of 18-24, based on the sites I visit. Google listed 16 interests that they felt applied to me and I had mixed emotions with the results. On one hand they were spot on with things I was interested like rap, fitness, cooking, and fashion. It made sense that Google knew these things because I am constantly searching these topics on Google. The information listed that really surprised me was East Asian music, make-up, and bicycles. I have minimal to no interest in all these things, especially bicycles, mainly because I do not know how to ride one. Considering Google was correct on 13 out of 16 results I can cut them some slack. Overall I think Google knows me well, regardless of the few interests that I could care less about. Its pretty remarkable how much Google takes in to consideration of my online interactions. When clicking “How it Works” link I was shocked to find out Google goes through my emails and uses the information inside to gear ads towards me. I almost felt that Google knew me to well, which was slightly off putting and also made me realize how manipulated life in the digital world is, and how the average Internet consumer is so unaware. Facebook and Google may not be “Big Brother” but they are definitely watching.