Guide to finding and erasing your online data doppelganger


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/07/05/tradecraft-101.html


#2

What boggles me is even though they know all this stuff about me I still get ads (well when the blocker is turned off) for all kinds of shit I never would want or the targeted ads for weeks cause I researched and already bought something so don’t fucking need it anymore.


#3

I am given to understand that kids these days call it a “digital footprint”.


#4

Yeah - so those "best minds of my generation … thinking about how to make people click ads” really aren’t nearly as clever as they think they are. Or maybe all they do is just think about it (and do nothing). Seems like it sometimes.


#5

I lie so much that I wonder what my digital persona looks like. My new deal in instagram is to click to hide every ad and say it is either not relevant or it’s offensive.


#6

I have sometimes thought I should do searches for things I don’t care about, just to get a different set of ads. I’m totally bored with ads for a hotel I stayed in 2 weeks ago and never intend to go to that city again.


#7

I tried the Amazon link in the article, and the uBlock Origin Chrome add-on blocks it because it tries to take one to https://s.amazon-adsystem.com/v3/oor?act=r&d=www.amazon.com&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fadprefs&cb=1499299125085 instead of the https://www.amazon.com/adprefs which is linked.


#8

Targeted ads are a myth. A myth used to sell Big Data surveillance to us schmucks. “Gives us insight into who you are and in exchange get advertisements for stuff that you want!”

The reality is that “targeting” ads with that kind of precision would require a full-blown AI simulation of your personality that is constantly updated with every new experience that happens to you. Which is obviously impossible.

Instead, Big Data is about manipulation its about figuring out what buttons to press in order to push consumers into spending money with the companies paying for the advertising. Most advertising is just about getting their client’s name in the back of people’s heads so that when they are ready to make a purchase, subconsciously the client’s product is the first one the consumer thinks of. They want to be at the “top of the list” because few people have time to consider a list of more than two or three choices. That’s how Amazon Prime (and Costco, etc) all work. But that’s just the most benign form of manipulation.

There are lots of ways to be more manipulative. For example, they don’t just want to show you ads for beer, they want to show you ads for beer with sexy models that are your “type.” Or showing new parents ads for diapers with models that look like their family (e.g. showing white single mothers advertisements with white babies and a single mother happily doing it all on their own).

More nefariously, if you are prone to conspiracy theories, then they will show you political ads that play on your conspiracy theories. Or even darker, since alcoholism has a significant genetic component, they can send coupons to people with alcoholics in their family.


#9

If my time without adblock is any indication they got that totally wrong too.


#10

Its not worth your effort. You are just adding noise to the signal. But there is already lots of noise in the signal because their data collection is imperfect. Their algorithms for dealing with all the naturally occurring noise are just as good at filtering out the deliberate noise too.

Plus, they don’t need 100% accuracy. A typical advertising campaign is considered an unqualified success if it has a 5% response rate. So even if all the noise you put into their data results in them failing with 95% of the advertising directed at you, they would still be celebrating with the Dom Pérignon.


#11

Yes, but I do so enjoy shoving crap into the signal. They are also likely to get a stubborn 0% response rate from me depending on where they advertise at me.


#12

The only way you can assure a 0% response rate is by avoiding all advertising (including product-placement). See my prior post, its not really about getting click-thrus that end in a sale. Its about getting in your subconscious so that weeks or months down the line you make a purchasing choice that was influenced by their advertising and you don’t even know why you did it, it just “felt” right.


#13

Exactly!

If I just bought a salad spinner or a pogo stick (or whatever), I’m the last person you should advertise those things to!

Then again Rosetta Stone keeps trying to get me to buy more Rosetta Stone stuff. How many languages do you think I’m trying to learn over here?


#14

I tell you what, it’s gonna take more than the world’s smartest minds to make me click any fucken ads. Maybe they should tackle something a bit easier, like cancer or climate change.


#15

Well nice as that might be, remember that cancer only happens to poor undeserving people and climate change does not exist. Meanwhile a Silicon Valley share price or IPO must be shored up to avoid the global disaster that will happen if a share price were not to grow quite as fast as the “attention span of a gnat” idiots on Wall Street expect it to this quarter. And don’t forget that as soon as Zuckerborg’s finest minds DO manage to get people behaving like Pavlov’s dog in sufficient numbers, he WILL run for office. Can’t do it beforehand, too much risk he might not win.

(Do I need a sarcasm or ‘having a bad cynicism day’ tag after that? Just in case anyone takes me literally.)


#16

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