Words of Advice:

"We have it totally under control. It's one person coming from China. It's going to be just fine." -- Donald Trump, 1/22/2020

“We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here..and isn't it refreshing when contrasting it with the awful presidency of President Obama."
-- Trump Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, 2/25/20

"I don't take responsibility for anything." --Donald Trump, 3/13/20

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Monday, December 16, 2019

Boys and Girls, It's Time to Go Back to Paying Cash for Stuff (and Ditch Those "Loyalty" Programs)

Because Facebook, in association with chuckleheaded merchants, is tracking your shit.
If you recently bought something at a physical store, you might have noticed an uptick in the number of Facebook ads you saw related to that store or the item you bought.

The phenomenon — which has been documented by Reddit and Twitter users — is not a coincidence.

Through its partnerships with retailers, Facebook learns about what users are buying, both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. That data is ultimately used to target ads to people, based on what they're likely to spend money on.
Oh, the evil trolls at Facebook claim that you can opt-out of it, but how much do you trust those fuckers?

One of the users/participants of this bullshit is Dick's Sporting Goods, a company that is truly living up to its name. Because that's what they are doing to their customers.

Note that all they need are a couple of bits of data to link you to the purchases, which is why, even if you pay cash, you had better not opt for an emailed receipt or let them scan your loyalty card.

If you want your privacy, people, you need to fight for it. Not just "opt-out" of that bullshit, actively take measures to avoid being tracked. First and foremost: Pay cash.


Witold Pilecki said...

I love annoying the cashiers at the regional chain grocery stores. They always ask if I have my "loyalty" card, and I say, "yes, I choose not to use it." and then proceed to pay cash for my few items.

Do they really need to know I just bought a wrap at the deli, bag of chips, and bottle of iced tea for lunch? Well, of course they do, silly!

bmq215 said...

I can't say I really mind targeted advertising and it definitely isn't a new thing. TV ads are aimed at the viewing demographics of particular channels and/or shows. Ditto radio ads. Even billboards are carefully tailored towards the local populace. By and large it works out well for both the advertisers and the consumers who spend less time bombarded with information that doesn't concern them.

Is the interconnected nature of FB/Google/Amazon/big box store ads a new frontier? Sure. But I accept that as part of the price I pay for otherwise "free" services and/or discounted prices. Facebook allows me to stay in contact with friends in a way that I wouldn't be able to over email, phone, or (god forbid) mail. In return for that service I exchange a bit of valuable privacy in lieu of direct payment. I can opt out at any time but I choose not to because that service is worth it to me. Likewise, Google allows me to find information that I never could using other methods and their integration with my other electronic services saves me a great deal of time and hassle. I give up privacy for this too, but I'm willing to do so because the benefits outweigh the risk.

I'm a little surprised by how many people never previously considered how all of these "free" services could also be profitable. Yes, it's a trade. That's how business works.

0_0 said...

My Safeway card needed no form to be filled out. There was one, but the store didn't care.
I barely use Facebook, and I never use 'Like" functions since I 'liked' something once and saw the ads and posts. Never again!
FB has every privacy setting used, plus Adblock and NoScript, and I still don't trust it. Good thing I gave a fake birthdate, at least.

Stewart Dean said...

You tell people you've left Facebook and you get a blank stare. People are cattle, I do (sincerely) hate to say. There is so much to unpack for them, that it only makes them wonder at your sanity all the more, as if you are some kind of Luddite or conspiracy theorist.

dinthebeast said...

Never had a Facebook account. Don't have a smartphone, (not that I don't like smartphones, just couldn't afford one) but it looks like I'm about to get one. Have a Safeway card, used it once the day I got it.
Looks like I may be moving to the mountains for a while, may have to get my driver's license back.

-Doug in Oakland

w3ski said...

I don't believe in coincidence much. I once Emailed my wife on Google, with some crazy at the time suggestion about an essential oil burner. Not something I was even serious about.
The very next day on Facebook there is an advert for just that item? I never searched for it, I don't use Alexa or anything like that, I don't shop for anything like that, but here they were advertizing one to me?
Maybe I am making something out of nothing, but it isn't a good thought.

bmq215 said...

w3ski, that's not a coincidence at all. Google is quite open about the fact that they scan emails and pull keywords out. They moved away from majorly relying on email keywords for advertising in 2017 due their ability to use content from Youtube, FB, etc. but they still scan for various things. One example is how flight reservation emails will automatically create Google Calendar events for those flights.

Various providers will also target ads based on your IP address. E.g. if your wife searched for that oil burner on your home wifi network you might both receive ads for it (something to be careful about when doing holiday shopping online).