Tag: interest based advertising

On Cambridge Analytica

A friend of a friend said she doesn’t mind her personality profile being tracked so FB can suggest things she likes. Why does everyone think it is so bad when she’s stumbled upon many gems from web series, shopping sites, particular products that she highly enjoys. Well, I have two reasons.

Firstly, some people are making a tactical decision to trade personal information for access to technology platforms they enjoy. There are a handful of people I knew in Uni who I thought were wonderful people, but just lost track of over the years. And it’s nice to meet them. There are special-interest groups for vegans, 3d printers, sewists, soap makers, and chicken owners that provide a lot of useful information to me. As an informed decision to share some basic demographic information & whatever FB can glean from my random musings in exchange for communicating with old friends and interest-based communities … I *don’t* think it is a bad deal (or I would not have an account). Heap-o people making something other than an informed tactical decision, though, isn’t exactly in my “good” column. And some third party having information about me because, although I have the platform ‘stuff’ disabled on my FB account, a friend downloaded an app … that contravenes my specifically selected privacy settings. And feels like a violation of my trust.

More generally, I don’t care for psyops tactics trying to separate me from my money (or, in this case, my vote serving my real interests). That’s what all these data analytics seem like to me. I opt out of interest based ads on my computer and cell phone. New companies come online and things I’ve thought about buying and decided against once again start stalking me across the Internet. And, yeah, I’ve discovered products that actually INTERESTED me (not always, advertising steaks to a vegetarian is a major profiling fail). But I don’t need, nor I particularly WANT, to spend more money on ‘stuff’. If I have an obvious need for something in my life, I either make something myself or research product options.

I’m not a huge fan of Pinterest for a similar reason – I have a large backlog of projects I want to make. I *really* don’t need an algorithm to look at my projects and suggest additional ones I may like. Yeah, I *do* like them. Until my time machine comes online, I’ve only got so many hours to spread out between family, work, friends, caped crusading, hobbies, research. And I’m quite adept at finding *new* projects when I’ve got some spare time or have a particular need.

I see interest based advertising – online, mailing, any source – the same way I think about toys in the cereal aisle at the supermarket. I don’t object to toys on principal. I object to placing them in a location my kid is going to see because young kids (the target demo, based on toys available) are prone to public screaming fits when they don’t get their way. And 2$ to avoid an unpleasant and stressful situation doesn’t seem too awful when you’re already tired and just want to GET HOME. When the yarn I already decided wasn’t worth it (or decided against the whole project) … being asked to continually reassess this decision is an attempt to reach me at a time when I’m less prone to make rational decisions.

So while “bad” isn’t the word I’d elect to use … it’s the same kind of underhanded as piping O2 into intentionally windowless casino to keep gamblers playing longer. Or maybe it is bad, because the other example I think of is chemically engineering cigarettes and processed food to be more addictive.