When I repeated Matt Honan’s experiment of liking everything in my Facebook feed for 48 hours I felt that the impact that my activity had on ads and suggestions on Facebook was surprisingly anticlimactic. Some of the pages that I liked weren’t related to my actual interests (i.e. sports, Marvel super heroes, rap artists) or other information about who I am (i.e. colleges I never attended and local news for cities that I’ve only visited).
In spite of some of these differences the ads remained mostly the same, some of the pages that were suggested for me to join related to stuff I liked in those 48 hours and the biggest difference I noticed (which Honan also noted in his article) was my timeline was dominated by posts from pages I liked versus posts from friends and family. Marc Andrejevic’s article on digital enclosure sheds some light on why my experience on Facebook wasn’t significantly altered. Andrejevic writes that digital enclosures- physical space with an interactive overlay (or multiple overlays) which facilitate the capture and control of data that can be resold in the form of cybernetic commodities (Andrejevic, 307)- considers more than what you like; it considers what you write in messages and how many times you view pictures(Andrejevic, 308). With this in mind it is fair to say that liking pages on Facebook merely scratches the surface of the perception has of you.
Some of the terms and conditions of Facebook give an even more detailed explanation for how the site profiles its users. Facebook mentions briefly that they receive information about their users “on and off Facebook” from other sites. This lack of boundaries leads me to question the use of the word enclosure as the space to “gather information within the confines of the geographically delimited area [digital enclosure] cover” since Facebook can learn more about their users from activity that is independent from the site itself.
For these reasons I was more worried about the gaze of synopticon or the monitoring of the “few by the many” as David Lyon describes in his book, Surveilance. Facebook is probably second only to Twitter as the epitome of online viewer society where everyone assumes that they’re being watched and, in-turn, watch each other. By liking everything on Facebook for 24 hours I guaranteed that I would be a recurring spectacle on my friends’ timelines and I was worried some of my friends may take offense to a few of the posts I liked. I liked an article that proposed gay men were more at risk for skin cancer since they tend to tan more or the page for a porn star a few friends from high school liked (my girlfriend loved that). As Lyon writes “it is not just screening by police and security forces that counts today, but a screening of everyone, by everyone”(38) facebook is a testament to this logic and how people regulate their recorded activity to avoid conflict or prejudice from others.
Honan, Matt. “I Liked Everything I Saw on Facebook for Two Days. Here’s What It Did to Me | WIRED.” Wired. 11 Aug. 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.
Andrejevic, Mark. “Surveillance in the Digital Enclosure.” The Communication Review. 10 Oct. 2007
Ericson, Richard V.,David Lyon and Kevin D. Haggerty. “Chapter 2: 9/11, Synopticon, and Scopophilia: Watching and Being Watched.” The New Politics of Surveillance and Visibility. Toronto: U of Toronto, 2006.
Advertising and our Third Party Partners. (2015, January 30). Retrieved March 21, 2015, from Facebook