Everything these days seems to be either about personalization or psychometric profiling. I suppose that by now you have heard about the little problem that Facebook has been having the past few weeks. Apparently, according to the news media companies, voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica harvested private data from millions of Facebook users in 2016. Of course, the majority of us should know that we are the product for all these online, social media companies. Every time we complete a silly quiz that will tell us which Dawson Creek character we really are, our profile is being created and used for marketing purposes. I try to avoid the majority of quizzes on Facebook, but admit I have done a few. And I have most definitely done many of those Buzzfeed quizzes that predict my life five years from now based on how I build up a pizza. So what they get a profile one me. First off, it is not as if I answer them truthfully. Second, it’s cheaper than going to a Tarot Card reader. Right? Or is it?
As someone who actively participates in social media, and in particular on Twitter and WordPress, I understand the social contract we have as a society signed. Can we do better to give away less personal information? Absolutely. Something that caught my eye, was how WordPress reports on who refers traffic to one’s page. WordPress provides information on whether Google, Yahoo, or Bing send traffic one’s way. And it also provides information what search terms people used through those search engines that led them to one’s page. However, since 2013, WordPress can’t really tell you what specific search terms were used on Google. I was curious about why that would be. Turns out that Google has been encrypting the vast majority of search terms since 2013. Go figure.
Of course, if you have cookies on your computer, people can still track where you have been online and so forth. But if I want to know how people found me, through which search terms, I can’t there. There is still a bit of mystery out there. Which is fun in an odd way because not everything is naked out there on the web. Not yet. Or perhaps not ever. Maybe we will move back in time in terms of our privacy. I mean for a while, Twitter was inundated with bots and now there are becoming less and less. I think. Maybe I am a bot. Certainly, social media can turn many people into robots of sorts with people reacting in expected set ways to certain news items.
I am not too sure where else to go with these thoughts today. Other than I am both bemused and amused by our deep need for privacy coupled with our deep need need to put it all out there.