Sunday, 25 March 2018

Our Social Media and Other Data Profiling Giveaways

Has anyone been surprised to learn Facebook collects and retains a huge amount of data about its users, irrespective of our privacy settings?

Likewise, has anyone been surprised this data can be available for harvest by the likes of Cambridge Analytical in order to help formulate marketing strategies aimed at influencing what we buy, where we go and even how we vote?

I have not read the Facebook Terms and Conditions. I have simply assumed that anything I post on Facebook is available to everyone and anyone.

And it is not just what we voluntarily post on Facebook that builds our blueprint.

Have you ever completed one of those quirky quizzes that present from time to time?

Just for fun, have you answered the 10 questions to test your knowledge of movies made in the 50’s or to see how many songs you can identify from the opening lyric.

Then there s the one challenging us to name the car maker from their logo.

There is the 21 questions to test you basic maths knowledge and my favourite of all, 10 questions to determine if you are a narcissist.

All good fun however, my assumption is such quizzes only add to the information “they” have about us and allow greater potential to target market us based on a more comprehensive data base about us.

Thankfully, the saving grace is that Facebook is free.

We “tell all” when it comes to our shopping habits too.

Who has a Woolworths card, the orange piece of plastic scanned at the time of purchasing in Woolworths and associated outlets?

This is anther way we provide valuable data about “us” to business. Every scan of the card tells Woolworths what we have purchased. It is the same with Flybuys and other scannable loyalty cards.

Retailers are building a profile of our shopping habits. Maybe I buy most my groceries from Woolworths or Coles however not all. They can then target market me with details about their prices for these products or special offers.

If you doubt me, perform your own experiment. If you usually shop at Woolworths, over the next month separate your fresh food purchases so they are not included in the purchase linked to the scan of your card.

Woolworths will identify your change in buying habits and as a result, I expect you will be marketed to in a way that encourages you to purchase fresh produce from them. After all, they have your e-mail address.

The cost of this experiment may be fewer opportunities to receive a fuel discount.

Thankfully, Woolworths and other retail loyalty programmes are free.

Fortunately, not all our purchases are aligned to a loyalty programme.

I note with interest, free WIFI being available at some shopping centres. I have also noticed free WIFI being available at various airports around the world and on public transport.

Free WIFI is great. When shopping, we can save our mobile data and when at international airports, the valuable an expensive international roaming data can be preserved.

Using the WIFI at a shopping centre allows our movements to be tracked including the shops we visit and how much time we stay at each. It is similar at airports too and all of our data, is valuable data to someone else. Remember, we had to register to use it.

Is it any different on public transport?

Surely nothing we do when using free WIFI on a train is of any use. They already know what we are doing when we use our travel card to tag on and off at the start and end of our journey.

What I do know is I have to register to use free railway provided or facilitated WIFI and assume any site I visit while using it will be recorded.

However, because I have not read the terms and conditions of use I have no idea if that data about me can be sold or used to generate marketing campaign aimed at me.

Yet again, it is good that it is free.

Although, I am also reminded of the saying:
If you don’t pay for the product, you are the product.

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