I'm back from a week at my mom's house and now I'm getting ads for her toothpaste brand, the brand I've been putting in my mouth for a week. We never talked about this brand or googled it or anything like that. As a privacy tech worker, let me explain why this is happening. 🧵
First of all, your social media apps are not listening to you. This is a conspiracy theory. It's been debunked over and over again. But frankly they don't need to because everything else you give them unthinkingly is way cheaper and way more powerful.
Your apps collect a ton of data from your phone. Your unique device ID. Your location. Your demographics. Weknowdis. Data aggregators pay to pull in data from EVERYWHERE. When I use my discount card at the grocery store? Every purchase? That's a dataset for sale.
It will serve me ads for things I DON'T WANT, but it knows someone I'm in regular contact with might want. To subliminally get me to start a conversation about, I don't know, fucking toothpaste. It never needed to listen to me for this. It's just comparing aggregated metadata.
The other thing is, this is just out there in the open. Tons of people report on this. It's just, nobody cares. We have decided our privacy just isn't worth it. It's a losing battle. We've already given away too much of ourselves. gimletmedia.com/shows/reply-…
#109 Is Facebook Spying on You? | Reply All
This year we’ve gotten one question from listeners more than any other: is Facebook eavesdropping on my conversations and showing me ads based on the things that I say? This week, Alex investigates.gimletmedia.com
"We spotted a senior official at the Department of Defense walking through the Women’s March ... His wife was also on the mall that day, something we discovered after tracking him to his home in Virginia." nytimes.com/interactive/2019…
Opinion | Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy (Published 2019)
What we learned from the spy in your pocket.nytimes.com
So. They know my mom's toothpaste. They know I was at my mom's. They know my Twitter. Now I get Twitter ads for mom's toothpaste. Your data isn't just about you. It's about how it can be used against every person you know, and people you don't. To shape behavior unconsciously.