Do Social Networks Know You?

Exclamation mark There's quite a bit of discussion about what social networks like Facebook and Google+ know about you from your browsing habits.

Whether you've been cookied or tracked, or followed home by companies, all they can see is a browsing habit, not a preference.

For example, I use the Web a lot for work, and the course of a week, I'll visit hundreds of sites that are just research to me, nothing more.

Some algorithm somewhere will serve up ads based on this browsing and get is exactly wrong. Relevance requires a couple of key ingredients:

  1. connection to intent
  2. earned trust

I'd like to invite you to pause for a moment and think about how many people you can truly count on to be there for you. Forget the public displays. When you're really on the spot for something and need help, who do you call?

Are you your real self online?

Thanks to this idea of social proofing, more people have what I call status anxiety — the constant need to be seen getting comments, and retweets, and some action, to show activity. Browsing and sharing habits reflect this public need.

The follow through, or lack thereof, of course, shows one's true colors. Do browsers and networks see that? Only in declarations.


[image by Simon Adriaensen]

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0 responses to “Do Social Networks Know You?”

  1. “Relevance” is key here. I like your comment about how follow-through being important to show true color. Authenticity is important to achieve your true goals, on and off line. If you are networking on line, you should be reaching out as the real you, to build connections with real people, not just other online presences.

  2. I used to be able to reach out to many friends met online on a personal level… that spirit of wanting to know about each other has gone.
    When I meet people, I get to know them, I remember them, what they say, their interests, etc. I can tell you this is very rare to find in people.

  3. Social networks know you as much as you let them know you. And even then they know the side of you that you allow them to know. Or at least that would be the best case scenario. I’m saying best case scenario because we all know how much social networks influence our lives from our online reputation to almost literally our identity.

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