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Opting Out of Big Data Snooping: Harder Than It Looks 248

Posted by timothy
from the perhaps-you're-just-into-bottles dept.
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Princeton sociologist Janet Vertesi writes about her attempt at hiding her pregnancy from 'the bots, trackers, cookies and other data sniffers online that feed the databases that companies use for targeted advertising.' Big data still found her, even though she steered clear of social media, avoided baby-related credit card purchases, and downloaded Tor to browse the Internet privately."
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Opting Out of Big Data Snooping: Harder Than It Looks

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  • by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Saturday May 03, 2014 @04:35PM (#46909653)
    Has no one learned? If you are on the net, you are known. And you are tracked.

    Want to be anonymous on the web? Unplug your computer and kill it with fire.

    • Yep, and in the real world you're now required to carry a card with your database "primary key value" in order to get the real price, doing so otherwise causes you to "miss sales" or really "pay a surcharge".

      • Re:One way (Score:4, Interesting)

        by dugancent (2616577) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @12:05AM (#46911315)

        First off, almost all of those places will give you the discount if you ask, even without the card.

        That said, I always use Jenny's Number (867-5309) in whatever area code I'm in. It's never failed to work.

        • Yep, cashiers love to break the rules and scan some other card for you. What does it take to get them to do their job correctly?

    • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Saturday May 03, 2014 @06:03PM (#46910019) Homepage

      I'm puzzled. The summary says " Big data still found her...", but the actual article doesn't support that statement-- she just says how hard it is to keep a secret, and that multiple big transactions makes her look criminal.

      She does say that despite telling her friends not to, two people messaged her privately on Facebook... but doesn't say that the info got picked up.

      • by nullchar (446050)

        Yes, I read the entire article looking for how Big Data found her.

        Big Data didn't find her. She seemed to have only two problems:

        1. 1) It's hard to keep family and friends from posting about you on social media
        2. 2) It's hard to buy gift cards with cash to buy shit anonymously online.
          Solution: purchase them slowly over time from different brick and mortar stores until you need them. Or... don't buy expensive items online.
    • Or make yourself a new identity. Hide your IP. Disable anything with "script" in it. Purchase with Bitcoin and use Lynx.
      To be quite honest, I don't see much of a problem with some targeted advertising, but this is just plain intrusive, like if the entire industry is caught up in the NSA craze. The current laws don't do much about all this either.
  • It's almost as if when you try to hide they get an imprint of your negative space.

  • Big data found her? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dougisfunny (1200171) on Saturday May 03, 2014 @04:36PM (#46909663)

    It doesn't say big data still found her anywhere in the article. She made no mention of evidence that they had, despite the Uncle sending a congratulations message on Facebook.

    Was there more to story than just the article on Time where she said her measures weren't able to keep the information private?

    • It seems like anybody talking about this at facebook with it's amazing no-privacy policy indicates who should get hit with those ads. It's a "you can't hide!" situation.

    • by Dutch Gun (899105) on Saturday May 03, 2014 @05:02PM (#46909769)

      It doesn't say big data still found her anywhere in the article. She made no mention of evidence that they had, despite the Uncle sending a congratulations message on Facebook.

      Was there more to story than just the article on Time where she said her measures weren't able to keep the information private?

      Yeah, I saw nothing that said big data found her at all. Instead, I gleaned that she ended up acting pretty damn rude to her relatives who inadvertently broke her self-imposed techology exile, although I noted she didn't close down her Facebook account.

      She concludes by complaining about the data-collection agencies, essentially blaming them after she behaved rudely to her family and friends, and launches into a weird conspiratorial rant about how her husband spotted a sign behind a checkout counter stating the company "“reserves the right to limit the daily amount of prepaid card purchases and has an obligation to report excessive transactions to the authorities", and then goes on to talk about how this (plus using Tor) made them feel like criminals. Huh? She then exclaims that Obama's report on data collection practices can't come soon enough, because... uh, what will that report do exactly?

      While I'm not exactly on the side of these advertisement companies, the author clearly performed this experiment and wrote the article with a definite agenda in mind, and drew some somewhat odd and conspiratorial-sounding conclusions about the ordeal. It feels like she obfuscated the fact (not helped by the Slashdot summary) that her efforts did indeed pay off, and that apparently no commercial companies found out she was pregnant.

      That being said... in most cases (there are exceptions, as the article points out), do women care if an advertisement agency finds out she's pregnant? As soon as I bought a home, I got a lot of homeowner-related advertisement. That was fine with me, as the ads were more relevant to my interests, and it's not something I had intended to be a secret. I understand the principle of the thing, but every technology we gain has its tradeoffs. The web is largely funded by advertisement. We pay with a lack of anonymity and privacy, which seem to be what most people prefer, as evidenced by the success of Facebook. Overall, I still think we benefit a lot more than we lose from the connectivity and persistence of our online world.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by khasim (1285)

        Yeah, I saw nothing that said big data found her at all.

        Seconded. There should have been SOMETHING like "after which I was inundated with baby-related advertisements".

        And trying to hide it while buying baby stuff on AMAZON?!?
        ?!?
        one more time
        ?!?

        I lied. One more time.
        ?!?

        Amazon knows what you bought.
        Amazon knows who you are.
        Amazon knows where you had it shipped.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Amazon knows what you bought.
          Amazon knows who you are.
          Amazon knows where you had it shipped.

          She used a false name and account.
          She paid with Amazon gift cards purchased with cash.
          She had it shipped to an Amazon locker.

          What was your point, again?

      • I think you're right an all, but I can't get over just how bad these guys are at things. Buy a car, hundreds of ads about buying a car (hint, I already bought one, you see). Have a friend that's pregnant? Get hundreds of ads about 'your pregnancy'. Sorry guys, if you haven't figured out I'm a middle aged male, you're in more trouble than you realize.

        It has to work at some level, else they wouldn't do it. But for fun, on a slow week, hit up Amazon for anything transgendered or gay. Better yet, use the

        • Try this for size

          http://quantifiedtoilets.com/#... [quantifiedtoilets.com]

          toilets which test and analyze gender quantity odour blood alcohol drugs pregnancy and stds there is a feed on the page.

          • by epyT-R (613989)

            talk about literally having big brother's nose up your ass..

          • by RockDoctor (15477)
            That almost had me going for a few minutes. But they do say :

            This was a thought experiment brought to you through the Critical Making Hackathon by:

            So ... a thought experiment.

            Several years ago, the last time we had the "random testers" come to work and piss-test everyone for drugs (using clinisticks - how the fuck accurate or not are they? and how foolable?), I considered how to do truly randomised drug testing in our environment. and the idea was, simply, test the effluent from the accommodation and off

      • and drew some somewhat odd and conspiratorial-sounding conclusions about the ordeal.

        What is odd about noting "dual use" nature of services used to conceal ones identity?

        http://info.publicintelligence... [publicintelligence.net]

      • essentially blaming them after she behaved rudely to her family and friends

        Apparently one person's "rude" is another person's common sense. (Invocation of "blame" is another red flag that common sense has left the building.) 100% of the rudeness here derives from unbalanced technology, because Facebook wants it that way.

        Entire countries filter the internet. Yet as an individual, it's not practical for me to contract a public identity management agency which allows me to enact controls over what personal

        • by Dutch Gun (899105)

          I'm guessing you didn't read the article.

          "For example, seven months in, my uncle sent me a Facebook message, congratulating me on my pregnancy. My response was downright rude: I deleted the thread and unfriended him immediately. When I emailed to ask why he did it, he explained, “I didn’t put it on your wall.” Another family member who reached out on Facebook chat a few weeks later exclaimed, “I didn’t know that a private message wasn’t private!”"

          And again:

          "But avoi

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            The point of it was not that big data would catch on anyway, it was the extreme measures and rudeness required to avoid it. She had to do a lot of work just to avoid ending up in marketing databases. As demonstrated by the reaction of her relatives this may come as a surprise to many people. To the layperson a "private" message is, well, private.

            Sure, no-one forces you to use on-line shopping. The issue is that you want to buy stuff in a convenient way at a good price from an online shop like Amazon. You pa

          • by Kjella (173770)

            Note I'm not defending the behavior of the ad companies here. However, if she was really serious about wanting privacy about that sort of thing, I would think the common-sense course of action would be to stay off Facebook completely. Everyone knows that whatever you do there is mined mercilessly for data, but there's absolutely no reason one has to be on there, other than they *enjoy the features of the service* (this author apparently included).

            Not unless your circle of good friends intersects with the circle of walking Facebook-feeds, they want to check in and tag and tweet and instagram everything that's their choice, that I don't is my choice and we're trying to meet somewhere in the middle. Practically that means I have a Facebook account, the privacy settings are basically dialed back to an empty page so I can respond to events, messages and such but when we're together they have a pretty damn good shadow profile of me anyway. Particularly wi

            • by Dutch Gun (899105)

              Not unless your circle of good friends intersects with the circle of walking Facebook-feeds, they want to check in and tag and tweet and instagram everything that's their choice, that I don't is my choice and we're trying to meet somewhere in the middle. Practically that means I have a Facebook account, the privacy settings are basically dialed back to an empty page so I can respond to events, messages and such but when we're together they have a pretty damn good shadow profile of me anyway. Particularly with face recognition I'm sure they can tag meg in pictures from the friend list whether my friends do it or not, so I've stopped bothering there as well as long as my timeline is empty. I wouldn't be surprised if they show up with Google Glass, but there I might draw the line.

              Yeah, that's a good point. Trying to keep your privacy while actually using Facebook is sort of like trying to "stay safe" while juggling chainsaws. It's completely at odds with the basic premise of the activity. Fortunately, my friends and family don't rely on Facebook to that extent - or at least, will simply e-mail, text, or call me.

      • by mysidia (191772)

        essentially blaming them after she behaved rudely to her family and friends

        No. Her family and friends behaved rudely and violated her trust in failing to respect her decision that the information is not to be posted on social networks.

        • by Dutch Gun (899105)

          Could you at least read the article first before posting a kneejerk reaction?

          From the article: "For example, seven months in, my uncle sent me a Facebook message, congratulating me on my pregnancy. My response was downright rude: I deleted the thread and unfriended him immediately."

          She admits herself how rude she behaved to family and friends in the article several times. As it turned out, they were unaware that private messages or postings on Facebook were not really "private". From her own account, thos

      • by mujadaddy (1238164) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @12:44AM (#46911417)

        The web is largely funded by advertisement.

        And that fact is largely to blame for most of the problems I have with the internet.

        The internet used to be a labor of love: if you loved something, you had a site. It wasn't about making a buck off of people. Call me whatever name you like, but I'd rather 300 baud of people who love what they're hosting than 1Gbps of adware.

        • by Dutch Gun (899105)

          The web is largely funded by advertisement.

          And that fact is largely to blame for most of the problems I have with the internet.

          The internet used to be a labor of love: if you loved something, you had a site. It wasn't about making a buck off of people. Call me whatever name you like, but I'd rather 300 baud of people who love what they're hosting than 1Gbps of adware.

          Do you use Google for searching? Ever enjoy a youtube video? How about looking up news articles online? Listen to a webcast from the Twit network? Even Slashdot, which I *know* you use at least. Every one of them free for you and paid for partially or entirely with ad revenue. If you truly can't abide seeing any advertisements, for heaven's sake, just use adblock.

          It's obviously not a good fit for every service or site, but it makes a lot of sense for many of them. There are still plenty of wonderful,

          • Of course I use Google for searching, but I've moved on to Startpage [startpage.com] at present to minimize my Google footprint. Youtube existed before Google bought it, and it was unarguably a better place, if not quite as convenient with respect to speed or uploading.

            And that is what I think you've missed, here in the comments of a story about how onerous it is to avoid becoming a data point in dozens, hundreds of advertisers' and Snowden-knows-what-else's data files:

            We don't have a choice any more.

            Back when the inter

            • by Dutch Gun (899105)

              No, I didn't miss that point, but I'm probably communicating my own position somewhat unclearly.

              You may be surprised that, in fact, I actually consider myself to be something of a privacy advocate, although probably not nearly as extreme as some. I guess I still see the good that the advertising revenue has done for the web as well as the bad, so I guess I've been taking a somewhat contrary position to balance the debate. Keep in mind that I view "advertisement" and "intrusive personal data mining" as dis

              • No, I didn't miss that point, but I'm probably communicating my own position somewhat unclearly.

                You may be surprised that, in fact, I actually consider myself to be something of a privacy advocate, although probably not nearly as extreme as some. I guess I still see the good that the advertising revenue has done for the web as well as the bad, so I guess I've been taking a somewhat contrary position to balance the debate.

                I love a well-reasoned contrary position; nothing wrong with forcing people to think about their own.

                Keep in mind that I view "advertisement" and "intrusive personal data mining" as distinct issues as well, although it would be naive to dismiss the relationship, of course.

                And I said I don't mind advertising, only the distinct feeling that there's an entity-like algorithm behind the scenes ticking boxes when I do things.

                Ultimately, we're probably going to need some "complete opt-out" legislation, perhaps similar to the "do not call" list for telemarketers.

                That would take quite an honest & vigorous debate to enact; I doubt ten years is enough time for this, so I prefer to advocate personal obfuscation *now*...

                I assume you're asking about free as in "freedom"?

                No, actually; As you point out, we have "Freedom"-free (at least at the moment before the Impending U

                • by Dutch Gun (899105)

                  Well said, but the danger of a lack of privacy is, should be, self-evident: If I've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to see.

                  I heard a couple of great privacy-related quotes after the NSA think broke a while back - don't remember where it's from though. The thoughtful version:

                  I've got nothing to hide from those I trust

                  Or the slightly funnier version:

                  I'm not doing anything wrong in the bathroom either, but I'd still like some privacy there

        • by sudon't (580652)

          The web is largely funded by advertisement.

          And that fact is largely to blame for most of the problems I have with the internet.

          The internet used to be a labor of love: if you loved something, you had a site. It wasn't about making a buck off of people. Call me whatever name you like, but I'd rather 300 baud of people who love what they're hosting than 1Gbps of adware.

          I'm with you. I liked the internet a lot better before everyone decided they needed to make a buck off it. I wish most of these commercial sites would go out of business. It's actually a lot harder to find stuff I'm interested in, now.

          Here's another thing I learned in the early days of the internet: Never use your real name online. You use your real name on Facebook, and you care about your privacy? I'm sorry, you're an idiot. It seems like every month there's an article like this, from some clueless "tech

      • instead, I gleaned that she ended up acting pretty damn rude to her relatives who inadvertently broke her self-imposed techology exile

        I RTFAed but I didn't find any examples of rudeness.

        All I can think of, is that maybe some people consider Facebook unfriending to be rude. Has that become true? Or was it some other act (e.g. asking people to help collect gift cards, maybe)?

        • by Dutch Gun (899105)

          I RTFAed but I didn't find any examples of rudeness.

          All I can think of, is that maybe some people consider Facebook unfriending to be rude. Has that become true? Or was it some other act (e.g. asking people to help collect gift cards, maybe)?

          No, it was the part where she literally states "I acted rudely" twice in the article. Did you miss it? That, and the fact that she apparently called them out and questioned why they contacted her on Facebook. I can only infer based on what she said, but it sounded like she wasn't exactly polite about doing that either.

          Facebook unfriending is, from what I understand, removing someone's permission to post in your personal zone (depending on your settings, I'd guess). Considering this was her immediate res

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        The ironic thing is, by doing all these countermeasures, she appeared MORE unique to Big Data.

        Everyone loves to try to hide, but the thing is, hiding makes you more obvious. Making large purchases from Amazon, but no obvious Amazon account usage or credit card/debit billing? Well, you must be an Interesting Person to follow. And not only that, there are so few Interesting People that you stick out like a sore thumb.

        In the age of Google knowing everything, the name of the game is to NOT stick out. Be like yo

    • Google knows. At sometime she must have sent an email to someone with a gmail address or called someone that used google voice and mentioned pregnancy. There is no way for her to know if her telephone call was being monitored and transcribed by google voice.

  • We also need better tracking of men who make women pregnant! See, for a first child, she's going to go through things she's never experienced before. They need to learn the Gerber brand, need to learn what diapers are about, told what's current at Toys 'R Us (are their any competitors left?) and more.

    Sorry, you just can't opt out of that one. If you don't want it online, it's going to land in your mailbox.

    • We also need better tracking of men who make women pregnant! See, for a first child, she's going to go through things she's never experienced before. They need to learn the Gerber brand, need to learn what diapers are about, told what's current at Toys 'R Us (are their any competitors left?) and more.

      Sorry, you just can't opt out of that one. If you don't want it online, it's going to land in your mailbox.

      That's why I search for baby names, cribs and daycares every 9 months or so. Surprisingly, they've stopped sending me "special deals" by email and mailbox; I guess they figure that after every 9 months for 15 years but with 0 purchases except as gifts, I'm probably not their target market.

      I should have checked the F box on those surveys come to think of it... that'd have confused them even more.

  • :(

    That this is news to anyone is interesting.

    First the advertisers will stalk us, then the government will, then the revolution? (or more likely, circus and bread intensifies, and idiocracy results.)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Pay in cash and don't use loyalty cards works for in-store purchases. The Amazon gift card thing could work only if her husband bought them in cash and didn't fuck up by using his debit or credit card. Using TOR to try and keep advertisers away from her online presence works fairly well.

    The very first thing she did wrong in trying to keep this private is ultimately what would ensure she got found out - it was opening her fucking mouth to her family and friends. "Always keep your mouth shut and never rat

    • From TFA:

      a warning sign behind the cashier informed him that the store “reserves the right to limit the daily amount of prepaid card purchases and has an obligation to report excessive transactions to the authorities.”

      If that is not a sign of a totalitarian state, I don't know what is.

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        If that is not a sign of a totalitarian state, I don't know what is.

        It's a byproduct of anti-money laundering laws and it's nothing new.
        It's the same reason the IRS has a rule about deposits over $10,000 and another rule about "structuring" your deposits to intentionally avoid the rules.

        They could get rid of it, but criminals would just start buying gift cards en masse to wash their dirty money.

  • and downloaded Tor to browse the Internet privately

    Of course, unless she establishes a new exit node every time she visits a new website, and uses a browser with a different fingerprint each time, it is still possible to track her browsing behavior.

  • yep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Saturday May 03, 2014 @05:01PM (#46909765)

    I've worked with this software in the past. You can't hide from it, period. I even saw one that considered TOR browser as a data point to help identify you. Even staying off the net wont help. They have deals with your grocery store, walmart, your car dealership, everything... They get all your data all the time. Our only saving grace right now is its so much detailed information they don't even know what to do with it all. They can send you adds that might better appeal to you, but other than that they're not really sure what else to do. I suspect that at some point, someone will figure out how to do horrible things with this kind of information, and then this will suck.

    • TOR has so few users that you're going to end up being identified as "Oh, you're the one visitor I have that's using TOR!"

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "TOR has so few users that you're going to end up being identified as "Oh, you're the one visitor I have that's using TOR!"

        Actually, when you visit EFF's panopticlick while using Tor, you have a common user agent, versus a non-Tor browser which is very unique. Yes, the exit node IP gives you away, but there are countermeasures.

        One solution is to use Startpage's free web proxy, especially through Tor. They spoof your user agent which changes often.

        Tor has a lot of users:

        http://metrics.torproject.org/ [torproject.org]

        Sadly th

      • Are you claiming to have the ability to backtrack who the connected person is? Or that during the few moments someone is on your site, they're the only person connecting through TOR, and therefore can be tracked around your site. Because I was under the impression that her goal was to prevent aggregation of data over time, not prevent a single site from knowing the cvisited pahes 3, 6, and then 12 during her visit.

        • The main problem with TOR is there's not enough users, and as soon as the user hits a site that's never seen TOR before, they just nickname you as the TOR user on that site. If you read news through TOR or search Google through TOR, you're going to end up trackable anyway. Most news sites now refuse service to cookie-less users.

    • by Druegan (646568)

      I really doubt they have all that much on me that's at all useful to them. I don't have bank accounts, I shop by proxy, giving cash to certain trusted friends to purchase things for me, or I deal directly, in cash, with small independent retailers.

      I have no credit cards, no shopping club cards, no discount cards.. I do use Facebook, every once in a while, but I have virtually no information on it beyond ranting about human idiocy and wishing happy birthday to people I haven't physically seen in 20 years.

  • by Freshly Exhumed (105597) on Saturday May 03, 2014 @05:08PM (#46909789) Homepage

    EFF is launching a new extension for Firefox and Chrome called Privacy Badger. Privacy Badger automatically detects and blocks spying ads around the Web, and the invisible trackers that feed information to them.

    https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/... [eff.org]

    • Already tried and failed... it ends up with your IP address being tracked instead of your cookie... no way out from that one, and some news sites might stop serving you news for that one.

    • The only way to hide is to move to the Alaskan Wilderness and never return to civilization. I take great joy in poisoning every attempt to gather data on me. Send in those warranty cards with bogus info. Make Google searches on all kind of random things under your account. Register that shopper loyalty card in your dog's name. Get creative. Use the system's very strengths against itself. Garbage in equals garbage out to use that cliché. Make that data as worthless as possible.
  • Buying things with cash and not using membership/credit/debit cards, is about the best we can hope for, if we do not what our purchases and lives tracked.

    Likely this using-cash-only anonymity costs more, as well as the inconvenience(?) of not making any internet purchases.

    Really seems a truism, that "anonymity isn't free."

    • by RJFerret (1279530)

      Likely this using-cash-only anonymity costs more...

      Huh? *tilts head, why might that be a presumption? In my case cash saves lots annually...

      About 15% discount for cash at one of my car repair shops, 10% discount at the closer/less expensive one.

      Discount for cash on rent.

      Discount for cash with every service person I've ever had do work for me (plumbers, roofing, furnace repair, appliances, etc.) Heck, just yesterday, tow truck...who also offered a post-payment lift wherever I wanted to go afterward.

      Card price is 4% more at many gas stations, although Disc

      • In my case cash saves lots annually...

        I think that cash-only life style might, overall, cost more in terms of time (our time is money, right?), for the extra time spent having to go to the bank, standing in line for a teller, then doing a human/human transaction, and the possible inconvenience of not doing internet shopping.

        But, I will be happy to be wrong. Haven't been doing cash-only long enough to really track the savings/cost difference as opposed to the days of plastic, ATM use, and internet purchases.

  • by wiredlogic (135348) on Saturday May 03, 2014 @05:50PM (#46909969)

    Acxiom has been doing this for decades before the web existed. If you spend money electronically they have a record of when, where, and what you purchased. With a sufficient enough sample of data they can determine interesting things about people like when they're likely to be pregnant or menstruating or any number of other characteristics marketers can use to improve their chances of a sale. For instance, if women are more likely to buy certain products at certain parts of their cycle then a marketer can synchronize their junk mailing to coincide with the the optimum time for them to be most receptive to spend their money on something. Yes, this really happens.

    You have to disconnect from the internet AND spend cash only AND never use loyalty cards AND hope no one you do business with still sells your information to a data broker to be able to hide from them. Tor alone won't cut it.

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Saturday May 03, 2014 @06:00PM (#46910013)

    So for 9months:

    Pay for your prenatal supplies with cash.
    Don't surf the web for anything related to pregnancy or children.
    Surf the web for chainsaws and snowblowers.
    Read books.
    Read Newspapers made from paper.
    Read Magazines made from paper.
    Buy them at the local store in cash.
    Don't give them your "Frequent Shopper Card"
    Stay offline.

    Not so tough.

  • This "sociologist of technology" (self proclaimed?) might want to go back to school. As far as I am aware, even if you use TOR and gift cards, and have you stuff shipped to a po box, you still need a legit account with a name, in which case off goes your private data.
  • A "friend" might comment on your condition and upload your photo as well.

  • by __Paul__ (1570) on Saturday May 03, 2014 @09:27PM (#46910813) Homepage

    Clearly, the best path for people to take is to start feeding misinformation into the system. Periodically do searches for things you're not remotely interested in. Make them think you're a completely different age, sex, race, and socio-economic group. A database full of incorrect marketing information is worthless to anyone.

    • > Periodically do searches for things you're not remotely interested in

      Any attempt to fight an inexpensive algorithm, with expensive cognitive activity, especially when you have no feedback on how you are effecting the system, is a losing proposition. Fight automation with automation, or just don't bother.

      > Clearly, the best path for people to take is to start feeding misinformation into the system.

      These systems are probabilistic, not deterministic. So, they are pretty much built with the assumption t

  • Her insurance company probably sold the information once she was diagnosed, All insurance companies sell mailing list type information. When I was diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease several years ago I was suddenly deluged with emails and snail mail spam for prepaid funeral services. I eventually found that my friendly HMO had sold me out. I don't want to mention any names but the initial are KP.
  • by sandbagger (654585) on Saturday May 03, 2014 @10:13PM (#46910933)

    Here are some to get her started.

    0.0.0.0 www.facebook.com
    0.0.0.0 facebook.com
    0.0.0.0 www.static.ak.fbcdn.net
    0.0.0.0 static.ak.fbcdn.net
    0.0.0.0 www.login.facebook.com
    0.0.0.0 login.facebook.com
    0.0.0.0 www.fbcdn.net
    0.0.0.0 fbcdn.net
    0.0.0.0 www.fbcdn.com
    0.0.0.0 fbcdn.com
    0.0.0.0 www.static.ak.connect.facebook.com
    0.0.0.0 static.ak.connect.facebook.com

    Apart from that, though. If she signs into Amazon to buy something, OF COURSE they'll know it's her.

  • In TFA, Janet admits to actively using a facebook account during the entire experiment. What the heck did she expect?

    And how much is a stroller anyway? Many appear to be under US$100, so that's just 2x $50 cards. Would it really have fit in a locker? How much other stuff from Amazon was she buying? Couldn't an Entropay card have worked? Why Amazon in the first place?

    The article concludes with When it comes to our personal data, we need better choices than either “leave if you don’t like it”. It seems like Janet was trying to do more than is usual online, specifically using sites known to track user buying habits, so IMO this is not a real world test.

    • That was my thought: "Wants to remain completely anonymous; still connects with friends and family on Facebook and buys stuff on Amazon."

  • At the start of every day, go to amazon and Google and search for lingerie (or appropriate underwear for your gender of choice).

    All day long, web pages you visit will be filled with pleasing images.

How many QA engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? 3: 1 to screw it in and 2 to say "I told you so" when it doesn't work.

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