Where are you sharing information (Whether you realize it or not)?
“What’s on your mind?” Facebook users across the internet are faced with that question every day. We know that when we type in that status box and hit send, we are sharing with our “friends.” Do we take the time to think about how much information we share, not only with the people that we choose to connect to, but also with the entire Internet? Users must think about the content they share with the social media world, including internet browsers and apps. This post will look at Facebook and Google, the most popular sites where people share information, to discover what information people are sharing, and how it may be used by the site.
Remember all of that information that you had to fill out in order to start your Facebook page? What you may not realize is that information remains public. This includes information such as:
- Your Name;
- Your Profile Pictures and Cover Photos;
- Your Gender; and
- Your Username and ID (Notess, 2009).
However, depending on the settings you put in place, other information can also be shared. If you choose to have your Facebook profile information set to “public,” this information can be seen by anyone on the Internet. This may be an obvious assertion; however it could make you think more about what you post on Facebook. In fact, according to the Facebook data use policy, a user should assume that information is publicly available unless a “share” button is visible (Facebook, n.d.). Another interesting consideration gleaned from the Facebook data use policy is that when your friends share information about you it can be made public (Facebook, n.d.).
So how is Facebook using all of this information? Some of the reasons are good, such as the development of products to keep Facebook safe and secure, or to protect rights and property. The information is also used to inform you of features and services, to measure and understand the effectiveness of ads, and for suggestions for ways for users to use the site and internal operations.
Google and Google Apps
We all know that Google keeps track of what people are searching for on its site and offers suggestions for what we want to search for. Google has even become a point of comedic commentary. Google collects our data from across their various services to present a uniform identity, and match ads, services, and information streams to our preferences (Google, n.d.). Google continues to create new applications and derive more information from us with each one. For example, using Google Reader allows Google to monitor the blogs you read and subscribe to. Google also knows what videos you watch and topics that interest you since Google also owns YouTube. By utilizing Google Desktop, users allow Google to know everything that is on their computer. Here are some apps by Google that are collecting information from you:
- Google Reader – information about blogs that you subscribe to and read;
- Google Analytics – collects information about website operations, popularity, and trends;
- Gmail – information about your communications;
- Google Desktop – information about everything contained on a PC;
- Google Docs – information contained in documents and spreadsheets;
- Google Calendar – information about your schedule and monthly activities;
- Google Maps – information about where you live and the places that you go;
- Google Books – through buying textbooks through Google books you reveal information about what type of classes you take or topics that interest you; and
- Google Chrome- information about all websites visited (Phillips, 2009).
Of course, some of the ways listed that Google uses information are obvious. The information is used to create ads that are based on a user’s interests. Google can successfully compile more data about a person than any other site.
Were any of the ways that Google collects information from its users a surprise to you?
How does this change the way that you view sharing your information on Facebook or Google?
Facebook (n.d.). Data Use Policy. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/about/privacy/your-info#public-info.
Notess, G. R. (2009). Privacy in the Age of the Social Web. Online, 33(4), 41-43.
Phillips, Courtney (2009). 25 Surprising Things that Google Knows About You [web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.criminaljusticeusa.com/blog/2009/25-surprising-things-that-google-knows-about-you/.