Web analytics companies offer "replay sessions" that let corporations watch every click and keystroke for individual users


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/11/16/fullstory.html


This is why I look at the link before clicking and then manually type the url. No, no of course I don’t. Can you imagine?


I have long assumed this to be the case.

What a boring job, to watch through someone’s browsing history. Can you imagine?


This isn’t really new. The earliest examples I can find of this are about Clicktale in 2006: https://techcrunch.com/2006/07/11/watch-internet-users’-behaviour-with-clicktale/

I feel bad for any analysts who actually wade through hours of these types of recordings, but I don’t know that they’re really that useful or have any effects on privacy more than every other type of tracking out there.


You mean like BB’s bulletin board?


Given a choice between respecting a user’s privacy and increasing sales, it’s a no-brainer for the corporation. Add in several layers of multi-team corporate gobbledygook and you damn well better be increasing sales. I don’t know what 72 things have been blocked on this page, but you know, everybody is doing it.


As someone who does it… (and only like 5% of my job time) It’s absolutely fascinating to get an understanding of what is and isn’t being utilized on screen… where the immediate attention is going and what “important” things are being missed. Helps build better software and web apps. Quite fun… I equate it to watching someone try to get through the maze you just built.

And for what it’s worth, all info is anonymized and we can only see the interactions on our sites/software.


Time to start using Brave


Buy you can do this with informed users. We do this regularly with our software. You get less samples, because it’s more expensive, but I think the results are better, because you can ask afterwards why they acted a certain way.


I wonder how much of this stuff is just the phrenology of programming? I ask because as a programmer I have yet to find a reasonable use case for “metrics” monitoring that couldn’t be done with a customer complaining about how bad a site or app is in detail. I think the attempt to take the user out of user testing is the biggest problem here. I don’t get why this is such a hard problem for them to grasp. Hire testers to hammer your app or site. PAY THEM WELL and they’ll tell you what’s right and wrong about the site. Hire decent managers and the like to analyze what’s said by the testers to make it comprehensible to someone like me (a developer). Rinse and repeat. See, no need to spy on users in the wild.


Full Gambit right? Analytics, User Testing… etc.
Samples like this try to take the quantitative information you could get from something like google analytics or a survey and give you qualitative info by letting you focus on a specific example in a certain pool. It is always better to talk to the people using your software


I suppose the interactions are only anonymized until someone starts typing their personal information into form fields. Or maybe you’re describing a different system than OP.

I certainly appreciate your noble pursuit to improve the software, but it’s not difficult to imagine the data being used for malicious purposes.


I agree. We code our software to fuzz out the sensitive data on recording. Legally we have to…but I could see companies using this maliciously in the same respects to bamboozle someone for their personal info (of course most websites already have control of said info through your account setup and interaction) I suspect this software wouldn’t fly in the medical field or government… although, who am I kidding, I bet the govt. use and love this!


I don’t disagree. Actual people are better than analytics…but it’s always nice to use the analytics to form the questions you ask.

Just like how using a focus group to get feedback, you are taking a chance that only your most vocal and passionate customers are going to say anything. Most people will just stop using your software/service/game/etc. over complaining (unless they are a captive audience, then lucky you / unlucky them).

I hope I don’t come off as a stooge for the analytics companies, I’m just passionate about designing software and sometimes even a seemingly trivial thing can help fix the biggest issues.


I hope my ADD-addled, keyboard-only navigation techniques and constant dithering give them a headache at least.


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You’re assuming a company like Facebook cares about customers’ complaints :slight_smile:


Lucky for me, this is pretty much the only site where I type any actual fnord words.