The President's Message

November 2019

by Ed Lynch

Established 1987

So . . . As consumers of the internet, we are likely to be "tracked" by every website we visit, especially the major purveyors, Facebook and Google.

I recently downloaded the "archive" files that are offered to their members to see what has been collected about me as a heavy consumer of both of these platforms. It's a very interesting contrast. The archive must be requested and after a few hours they send an email with a link to a download file. Facebook provides a 2 gigabyte ZIP file that contains a series of folders that have human understandable names that contain mostly HTML files with well organized and useful, but abbreviated, content. The folders labelled "photos" contains JPEG files that can be viewed using Windows Photoviewer. Pretty straight forward, although the JPEG file names are long number strings. At least I think I could find things in this archive from the first level folders.

Google is a whole different beast. The download is 11-14 ZIP files totaling 60+ gigabytes with long scrambled character names that provide no suggestion of the content or purpose. The individual ZIP files range from 5-10 gigabytes, but several were empty. Each ZIP file contains a series of folders that eventually arrive at a folder named "video" that contains JSON files and some media files, mostly from Youtube, in no discernible order. Other ZIP files contain a folder named "email" that contains a file with the extension MBOX that I couldn't open. It is described on the internet as a single string text file, but none of the methods for opening it that I found on the internet worked for me, so not much here that was very helpful or useful, not organized or structured in any useful fashion.

So what is the point of these "archives?" If this is the stuff they supposedly collect about me to sell to third parties that use the data to send target adds where I show up on the internet, I can't imagine how they get any "intel" from this data at all. Looks like a major waste of time and resources. Besides internet rule No. 1 is don't click on any adds that show up anywhere. . .

    Ed Lynch