There was a recent article on Buzzfeed (posted on February 28) that called attention to an interesting cache that Facebook has carefully stored away. If you go to your settings, click ‘Activity Log’ and then click ‘More’ until you see an option labeled ‘Search’. After you click on that, a log of all of the searches you have ever made since you joined Facebook will generate. So what’s the big deal? To me, this is a hugely interesting facet of Facebook from an anthropology standpoint – we all know that we can scroll down to our old ‘dark ages’ posts from when we first joined Facebook, but being able to see when and what we have ever searched tells a completely different story.
For one, it provides a huge opportunity for blackmail, or at the very least for nosey friends. Perusing this search log you can see exactly who and what you were obsessing about, and according to the blogger, “It is, of course, a terrible, shameful reminder of past whims, desires, boring queries, and any number of things that should never be and must be immediately killed with hellfire.” Obviously the author was not a fan. Luckily for those with obsessive compulsive creeping (don’t lie, you know you do it), you are able to delete your history.
So why is this information even stored? Facebook has been data collecting for advertising purposes since it was created – and all of the data they gathered was for a clear purpose: to either sell to advertisers or to better know the user (in order to most effectively advertise ‘at’ them.) This information, however, falls into the more ‘personal’ category and I can’t figure out what Facebook would want with it. And besides that, if it was just for the entertainment of the user to look at their past whims, why is the option so hard to find?
Warzel, Charlie. (2014). You can view your Facebook search history and it is the worst page on
the internet. Retrieved from: http://www.buzzfeed.com/charliewarzel/you-can-now-view-your-facebook-search-history-and-it-is-the