WATCH_DOGS Profiling: Highlighting the Danger of our Internet Presence

An interesting part of Watchdogs is the ability to grab a quick profile of passers-by. This gives a single line fact, their occupation and their income. It fleshes out the world that you so easily manipulate and helps give you the feeling of control, from the protagonists Smartphone you can achieve a surprising amount of things.

It is slightly disturbing the thought of one man (or a small group) having so much information on you at their fingertips. Details that are incredibly easy to access. Whether this is possible in real life, I’m unsure. Your government probably has a great deal of information on you, but due to inefficiencies and bureaucracy it would take a while to collate all of it and would not be gathered at quite the same tempo as is found in Watchdogs. Depending how much you place on social media sites, a relatively detailed profile could be created. (One they use to target adverts).

Another highlighted problem is one of misinterpretation. Brief snippets of your online usage, whether search history or postings on social media websites can be used to either negatively or positively present you. A single line is quite malleable in its interpretive value. The time a British couple tweeted that they were going to “destroy America” comes to mind. To a British person the tweet could be understood how it was intended; they were planning to get very drunk whilst over there. However, to the US authorities it looked like a potential attack. (Click here to read more about this).

Watch_Dogs Profile  "Frequent online searches; "Rape""

Profile: “Frequent online searches; “Rape””

Take the above image, Leo Havel’s fact is that there is in his history “Frequent online searches: “Rape””. A natural assumption would be that he is trying to look at disturbing things, which with his career, a physiotherapist, is pretty scary. Will point out here, that this person is only a creation within a game, its existence starts and ends with the randomly generated profile seen in the picture. There are though other possibilities: he is actually a victim looking for help or someone he knows has been a victim, he is conducting literary research into the issue or possibly he is in a responsible fashion educating himself as to what it is and how to help society remove its existence. As the NPC is only existing temporarily within a game, there is no further back-story. However, if this was a real person’s frequent online search, it could be misinterpreted by someone snooping or accessing their history.  With the gradual move to technological interaction, misinterpretation will become more prevalent, as subtle cues seen in physical or vocal communication are not viewed or heard.

After that depressing idea, we thought we would add some relief with a gallery of the more quirky profiles we have found. They range from the sad, those with life threatening illnesses, to the strange, including frequent purchasers of masks.


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