Highlight this

When I was asked the questions ‘What would happen if someone got ahold of your entire Google search history and published it? And who has access to this information now?’ it threw me quite a bit. Firstly we’ve all Googled some pretty weird things (for friends) and have so much private information surrounding what we do online. Releasing that metadata would be harmful for large amount of the population.

But using a service such as Google for free, there surely must be a price to pay? That is where the information that Google gathers on its users, same as with Facebook, that they then sell to companies for advertising to be personalised and directed towards us. 

Depending on what is marketed towards us and at what times of the day we are using the internet all combine to what will be targets at us.

Targeted advertising is simply a small part of the price we pay to be nodes of the internet. 


But is it really fair? The majority of internet users do not even realise what is happening to their personal information, and it’s been shared and spread across companies so they can target people down to their favourite ice cream flavour. 

Is this ethical for companies to do? They would argue yes, they are giving us a free service from their point of view, so why shouldn’t they get something from us too?

Personally I am very careful with what I do online and across my social media platforms, what I believe needs to happen is consumers need to be made aware of what is happening to their information and to make the fine print bolder


9 thoughts on “Highlight this

  1. Interesting blog. It is very scary when you consider how much of our data is being stored. Even when you think you’ve cleared your search history on your browser. I know that I’ve searched some stuff (for friends like you) that I’d very much like to remain private forever. Hell, there are photos of me in my younger uni years that I hope to god have somehow managed to be erased permanently from the Internet (wouldn’t that be nice). It is always important to keep it at the back of your mind that whatever you out on the Internet, if you search it or if you post it on a social media platform, can always be traced back to you in some way. So basically if you don’t want someone to know about it now, might be an idea not to post it at all. Good blog

  2. When that question was given I must admit it’s unsettling to think of what the consequences could be in terms of online persona and career paths. We’ve all had our friends hack into our account and post something completely not okay and then someone in authority finds it, whether its a future employer etc.
    Your meme pokes humour at a serious topic well, as again i’m guilty of just clicking rapidly “i agree”
    This is an article http://lifehacker.com/5843969/facebook-is-tracking-your-every-move-on-the-web-heres-how-to-stop-it?utm_expid=66866090-48.Ej9760cOTJCPS_Bq4mjoww.0&utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com.au%2F that shows how facebook is using our metadata in “cookies” and perhaps measures one can go to to prevent this. Perhaps its time we start asking if we can charge facebook and similar sites for the use of our data. 1c per MB of cookies to make it fair as we’re ultimately generating content so they can advertise to us. Interesting question you pose in that “is it ethical”… I don’t know if its ethical, but i certainly know that its smart marketing.
    Cheers, Sam

  3. You do raise a very interesting and scary point about the information that we publish on the internet, and that fact that companies must surely get something back from the situation. Personally, I don’t really mind that Facebook and Google use our information and what we look at online to target certain markets for advertising; I choose to look at certain things, as well as post certain things online with full knowing that the information I am producing is on a public platform that basically anyone can access. I really liked you meme as it used humour on a pretty serious issue/concern to many people in today’s online world. Well done!

  4. Prior to this topic, I had never really considered the link between how Google makes money and the advertisements I encountered whilst conducting Internet searches. I feel pretty silly about it now, but it really has made me consider (and freak out slightly) about the extent of information Google has stored on my internet searches, not to mention the huge sums of money they have made from this!

    I thoroughly agree with your point regarding making the ‘terms and conditions’ more accessible to users. Taking one look at those endless pages of fine print makes me think I’d need a law doctorate and magnifying glass to even begin to understand them understand them. I found this article (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/24/terms-and-conditions-online-small-print-information) to be really interesting in regard to how our privacy online is affected by our blind acceptance of T&Cs – the more we try to understand them, the more confusing they become! I personally think that part of the reason online companies get away with so much (eg. Google ‘reading’ our emails on Gmail) is because the T&Cs are purposely made to be inaccessible to the everyday netizan. I’d be really interested to hear your perspective on this issue!

  5. It is a rather concerning thought, thinking about the scale of information that is being collected every time we use the Internet. As Ted mentioned in the lecture, “The internet is a copy machine. At its most foundational level, it copies every action, every character, every thought we make while we ride upon it. In order to send a message from one corner of the internet to another, the protocols of communication demand that the whole message be copied along the way several times”. By engaging with the Internet we are ultimately giving permission for our content and online behaviour to be observed and recorded. It does make me think twice about what I am doing online!

  6. You raise some great points, and I totally agree that we do need to be made more aware of what these iFeudalist organisations do with our information. I think people forget what happens with it, and many don’t even realise the extent of what companies like Google can do with your data. This article looks at some of the less obvious ways Google collects and uses data:
    But I wonder, even if people did know/were more aware of it, would it change anything? Just because we know about something, that’s not going to change that it’s happening. People would probably continue using social media etc. just as they do now. Unfortunately I feel like it’s only when something major happens (like the Ashley Madison scandal) for people to realise how dangerous this can be, and for the consequences to be realised. And even then, would it stop people? Even after seeing what happened to those people on Ashley Madison (not that I feel sorry for them), you can’t help but wonder what would happen if that happened to Google, and as you said, all our search history was released? Would we stop using Google? Probably not.
    Great post!

  7. This is a topic that I am really interested in and one that you have covered nicely in this post. The one question that came to my mind when reading this post and the comments you’ve received is, ‘who is immune to this data collection?’ If it is Google who is retaining this data for whatever purposes, then does that mean that even the CEO has his/her data collected and made available for everyone at Google to have access to – just a question that has always interested me.
    I don’t know exactly where I stand with this issue though – I actually think I kind of like the idea of data retention and the lack of total anonymity online because there is definitely some data out there that needs to be made accessible. Whilst I have for sure Googled some odd things, I don’t think there is anything I have done on the internet that I am totally ashamed of. Whilst cyber bullying and prominently the whole Ashley Madison scandal are definitely things that should be made accessible – since these people are doing the wrong things. This is a very complex issue and you’re right when you say that companies need to make the fine print bolder! I found this article by Forbes which goes into the statistics of who actually reads the fine print – http://www.forbes.com/sites/firewall/2010/04/08/who-reads-the-fine-print-online-less-than-one-person-in-1000/ Crazy!
    Well done!

  8. Hi,

    I like the way you start your post with a rhetorical/ not-so-rhetorical question that really is very alarming! It made me think of an image I had seen throughout this week of a man who was holding over 2,000 pages of information on his usage of Facebook alone. It makes you think how much data Google would have on each of us and which companies have this information.
    I often wonder what the future will hold for our generation, who were brought up with internet usage in its true experimental period. We were and really, still are unaware of the consequences of our actions! Is all of this data going to be used against us from our naive childhood? What about generation Z who have literally been given Ipads and phones from the age of four or five! It is an interesting topic that I often think about! Thanks for that 🙂

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