Hey, lookit!

This article on the data that online companies have on us, and how they use it, is super creepy.

I assumed at some level that if I searched ideas for fiction or client work that Google would collect those searches and assume I was deranged. Turns out, they’ll also sell that information to Deranged Stores R Us to try to sell me some stuff that deranged novelists and branding types like. And that my credit card company may take the search information and say “that’s it. You’re cut off. You haven’t sold the last novel; why would we give you credit while you write the next one?” I knew it was probably happening, but now I’m really creeped out.

Read more about how your online “likes” and purchases are shaping what Corporate America sells you, who employs you, and how companies treat you. Then take your anti-SOPA energy and go advocate for data mining and sales laws.

3 thoughts on “Hey, lookit!

  1. Yikes. Articles like this make me just want to not use the internet at all, which is preposterous. The benign version of this is something like the recommendations on Amazon.com. They are based on my purchases, but I often buy items as gifts without saying so, so they’ve made some wildly inappropriate recommendations over the years. Mostly this just amuses me. But Amazon has apparently thought I’m black, based on their recommendations. Would that, combined with my Tenderloin ZIP Code, present a high-risk profile that would cause them to lower the credit on my Amazon.com Visa card? The article seems to suggest that this is possible. That would be unacceptable, but how would I even know? And you’re right about the dangers to authors. Or students or just interested, engaged citizens of the world. (Or, like the time I did a play where I was a child molester and went online to do non-prurient research into age-of-consent laws and stuff like that.) It would be totally stifling if I had to worry every time I did an internet search that it might affect some mysterious profile. Though I’m sure it’s probably too late to save mine. LOL

    • Matt, I always figured when I researched for a character I was playing or writing that the Internet thought I really was as weird as the character. But I didn’t know until the article that my credit rating and my job applications might be affected.

      Creepy. Our insurance companies have always done this, right, checked address against crime maps and our vehicle types against other drivers and our age against…but the data then was all self reported. This is silently following us, watching our every mis-type, our every NYTimes click (ahem), our every fb rant.

      (Yeah, my Amazon recommendations make me laugh. I buy for kids, I buy for relatives, I buy for work; and Amazon thinks I’m interested in some really weird and boring stuff. Thankfully, it’s just their computer, not a real person. And I don’t need their credit card. Because I’m guessing people who buy what I’ve bought have a *terrible* history of late payments. And several unseemly medical conditions.)

  2. I don’t see how Google has the right to scan my emails and then use that information to target me. I think that is an invasion of my privacy in the worst way. For some reason, Google searches don’t seem to bother me as much, but then again, my search history is fairly tame.

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