Feb 202012
Authors: Allison Sylte

I’ve coming to a haunting conclusion: The Internet knows more about me than my friends, my family, my professors and even my parole officer.

Google in particular has dominated the headlines recently, after inciting a nerd uproar due to a changed privacy policy that could, in theory, allow Google to share browsing and search history information with advertisers.

“This announcement is pretty frustrating and potentially frightening from a kids and family and teenager standpoint and an overall consumer privacy standpoint,” said James Steyer, chief executive officer of San Francisco-based Common Sense Media, in a Washington Post article.

And Facebook, a site where I spend a bit too much time, is already guilty of utilizing profile information for the sake of making money, as evidenced by the personalized ads we see when we visit our profiles.

Just to show you how accurate Facebook’s personalized advertising algorithm is, here’s a sampling of some of the ads I get when I log-in to my account (Note: these are all entirely real):

-”Get Help Now:” If substance abuse or mental health issues are affecting you, call now for free guidance and counseling

-”Help for African American business owners!”

-”Find Fort Collins singles!”

-”Be a man! Run ‘Tough Mudder’!”

Yeah… Facebook totally gets me. It’s pretty terrifying. It even knows I’m African American. I didn’t even know that.

Since Google probably knows even more about me, I’ve decided to include my Google dossier in this column, just to make a point about the dangerous things social networks know about us.

Name: Allison Marie Sylte
Age: 21 or 56 (given sleeping and browsing habits)
Marital Status: Single… but may have a fake British boyfriend
Recent Search History:
-Is Ryan Gosling in a relationship?
-Easy Cosmo recipes
-Easy Margarita recipes
-How to take a tequila shot
Beer before liquor, never been sicker– true?
-Hangover cures
-Shirtless Ryan Gosling pics
-Legend of Zelda walkthrough
-Acoustic Guitar Chords: What’s Your Fantasy, Ludacris
-Celine Dion tour information
-Does Celine Dion know Ludacris?
-Celine Dion, Ludacris tour
-Is Lil Wayne single?
-What kind of women does Lil Wayne like?
-How do you know if you have a gambling addiction?
-How to count cards
-Is counting cards illegal?
-Allison Sylte
-Allison Sylte, Collegian
-How to know if you’re a campus celebrity
-College columnists who made it big

Recently visited websites: nytimes.com, wsj.com, ew.com (Entertainment Weekly), perezhiton.com, Pinterest.com, perezhilton.com, outsideonline.com (Outside magazine)
Advertising strategy: gambling addiction resources, liquor stores, “Ides of March” promotional material, Celine Dion tour information, hip hop concerts, narcissism therapy

If you haven’t deduced it already from my search history, I’m very terrified about everything that Google knows about me. I don’t want the world to know I’m an avid Zelda player who loves Ludacris, Celine Dion, gambling and Googling myself.

Google has no right to know that. No one has any right to know that. It’s pretty terrifying information, and it’s not like the weirdness of my search history is particularly unique.

And it would be even worse if I were stupid enough to actually post all of my personal information on the Internet, to include my social security, bank and credit card numbers on my Facebook and Google profiles. It would be even worse if I used the Internet for crimes or looking at all of the nefarious things it has to offer.

Instead I, like the vast majority of society, simply use the Internet to waste time, and to find some pretty ridiculous information that Google and Facebook now know about.

And as you can tell from my search history, it’s totally worth freaking out about.

Content Managing Editor Allison Sylte is a junior journalism major. Her column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. She can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @Allison Sylte.

 Posted by at 3:20 pm

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