Monitoring Search History: Bad or Good?

Be careful what you search for on Google- nothing is secret anymore.

Even if the “government” isn’t monitoring your personal computer, websites like Google regularly record what their users search for. This data becomes researched information that is sold to companies looking to promote their product based on the demographic or seasonal time of these trends.

On my Facebook page, I’ve liked comic book fan pages such as Marvel. At first, I thought it was a coincidence that ads for upcoming comic book conventions and comic stores started showing up next to my profile! Since I’m a girl, I also started getting ads for woman’s clothes and products like perfume. Then I got suspicious. I took a class at UCF last fall which spent some time teaching about search data. Facebook actually uses the data from your page and sells it to ads that may pertain to your interest.

The immediate reaction to this information saving and selling is negative. It seems a little unnerving that a computer program is taking note of what I like and sending ads my way based on that. Little by little, I’ve ended up putting more information online, and while it may not be that serious (such as a phone number or address), information about myself or where I’ve been begins adding up online, making my life less and less private.

There is a small, good side to consider in this mostly negative view of searches harvesting your information. Facebook takes note of your information about what you like, and uses it to show you more things that pertain to you interest. If the ad lets me know about a sale or promotion, then I’m glad I saw it before logging off. Also, by monitoring search data, companies can use this information to learn the demographics searching for their product or viewing the search word combinations, and it can help them to make and sell a better product.

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