I’ve certainly complained about Facebook in the past, and my feelings have largely remained the same. It’s no secret that Facebook doesn’t seem to respect your privacy, and really wants to pry open and inspect all aspects of your life. For the most part we seem to let them. They roll out changes to their privacy settings, making you opt-out of updates that increasingly open up your data – if you can even find where to opt-out in their giant mess of settings.
Needless to say, I found it quite entertaining when I saw a viral marketing campaign in the US for the new Ubisoft game – Watch Dogs – called Digital Shadow. Digital Shadow follows the tenets of Watch Dogs, proclaiming that:
In the game world of Watch Dogs, the protagonist is an elite hacker in a near-future version of Chicago. He is able to pull information out of any person, machine, etc. through his phone.
Digital Shadow paints you as a target in the world of Watch Dogs by showing the type of information that Facebook makes publicly available about you, and your friends. After you’ve given access to the app, it displays this information in a manner similar to the game. It starts with some pictures of you to show that they know who you are. Though one of the pictures it pulled didn’t have me in the photo, so it’s apparently not THAT smart.
You then see lists including some of your friends broken down into several different sub-sets: pawns, stalkers, liabilities, obsessions, and scapegoats. These are basically fancy ways of displaying the sort of interaction you have with some of your friends. Stalkers, for example, “can be mined for further information about you” while Digital Shadow notes people that you rarely interact with – scapegoats – by saying that you can “sacrifice them for self-preservation.”
The app then parses your posts to determine “What Makes You Tick.”
It shows some of your most-used words that is uses to come to this determination. I discovered that I’m apparently somewhat angry on Facebook.
Digital Shadow uses your posting history to determine when you are most likely to be “active.” It also uses any location information that you’ve entered to pinpoint your location, explaining that it knows exactly where to find you. I’ve thankfully locked my Facebook profile down well enough that it could not determine my location.
Digital Shadow is obviously being melodramatic, but it brings up a valid point. We are placing much of our life online for nearly anybody to view. Perhaps we should be more careful – once you’ve given up your privacy, it is very difficult to get it back.
You can read more about the world of Watch Dogs in an excellent hands-on preview over at The Verge.