Tuesday, July 25, 2023

The scary world of online behavioral advertising


The scary world of online behavioral advertising

Lifehacker: “Instead of eavesdropping and storing your voice as many assume, your apps, phone, watch, game system, computer, and probably your oven are greedily collecting every data point they possibly can, including but not limited to your:

  • Location information (both through your device’s location settings and IP address)
  • Search history
  • Browsing history
  • Purchase history
  • Physical interactions (that is, how you physically use your device)

This information, taken as a whole, is way more valuable and useful than whatever you talk about, and basically anyone who wants to can buy it. Advertising companies don’t, as a rule, connect this data to anything that can specifically identify you (like your name and address). 

That wouldn’t be hard to do, but there isn’t much in it for advertisers. They know everything you do, 24 hours a day, so what difference does your name make? The process itself is called fingerprinting, and it allows advertisers to track you across sites and apps. The scary world of online behavioral advertising – A few basic data points would be all anyone would need to get a rough idea of how to advertise to you. If your location is “Beverly Hills” and you recently spent an hour looking at the Lexus website, you’re probably a rich guy in the market for a new car. 

In olden times, that’s all they’d need to target you, maybe with a billboard in your neighborhood or something. But online behavioral advertising collects so much other information—you bought a tent last month, you watched Star Trek on Sunday night—that targeting becomes scarily precise, to the point that it can feel supernatural.”