Media Criticism Spring 2012

Part 1: Deconstructing Super Bowl Ads

How Do They Know That About Me?

Posted on | April 25, 2012 | No Comments

Have you ever wondered how the advertisements on Facebook knew what you like? Well every computer has a small file called a cookie, or HTTP cookie, which stores information about all the websites you have visited. There are many different jobs a cookie can do. A cookie may store information about how you like to view a website, the products you browsed on the website, and even the last time you were on a website. Another type of cookie can track your IP address, which is a small number code that is unique to every computer, what time you were on a website, and even what browser you used. According to the article Online Privacy Concerns Associated with Cookies, Flash Cookies, and Web Beacons, cookies were originally introduced to computers and internet to collect your data so when you returned to a website your personal settings were saved.

For myself, when I log on to Facebook my advertisements are either about marketing jobs in Virginia or Greek apparel companies. At first when I did not know why Facebook knew that information about me I was creeped out by the fact they had somehow retrieved personal information. I learned about the cookies in my business classes here at Longwood University and that they were how companies were able to retrieve this information. At times I do still worry about my personal information floating around to other companies, but I also do enjoy the personalization of advertisements on sites that I visit.

Newsonomics calls this type of advertising method “behavioral targeting”. Cookies allow companies to track your buying and searching behaviors, which helps them advertise to you, their consumer. This behavior is sometimes also used to help companies reconnect with those customers that do not visit their site any more or even buy their products.

Now you might be thinking, “Is this an invasion of privacy?” Some people think that this method of advertising is, while others think that it is not since some information they use is information you have publically displayed on the internet. In the article Facebook Gets Personal With Ad Targeting Plan, Facebook is working on creating a new way for marketers to targets their users based on the information that they place on their Facebook page. Facebook eventually wants to be able to predict their user’s shopping habits and posting advertisements of products and services they may be interested in. Other companies such as Google use this type of advertising with the AdWords. Online Privacy Concerns Associated with Cookies, Flash Cookies, and Web Beacons, states that over half of internet users are worried about their privacy with cookies that they are willing to take action, by deleting their cookies, to protect themselves. In the United States there are no privacy laws that cover the internet and other technology. Some states do have laws that protect citizens, but it does not cover companies only the government. Slowly there have been laws created that cover portions of private protection, but nothing that covers internet usage with cookies.

As an avid social media user and internet surfer I do think it is very important for people to be aware of what is going on in cyber space. The Internet technology is rapidly growing and it is sometimes hard for old and new users to keep up to date with it. Cookies were not intended to be a bad thing when created. Sometimes the lead companies to more personal information that you are willing to share with them.



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