They follow you around the internet, watching what you click on, what you’re thinking of buying, what you write. They watch you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. They know where you shop and what you buy. Their smart math majors put it all together in complicated algorithms that predict your behavior; they sell these predictions to marketers.
The F.T.C. is investigating, says the Times.
A homely, scary example: I have a friend whose son is the C.E.O of one of these companies. I sent her a link to the article, and also happened to mention I was going to see the movie Belle that day.
She wrote back:
How’s this for irony. As I was reading the article for which you sent me the link, there was a tiny box that said Belle now playing click here to buy tickets.
One of these companies, Acxiom, decided to pretend to be transparent. You could go to a site , see what they knew about you, and then “opt out.” I thought I’d try it – this was about a year ago – since I have such an outsize horror of being spied on. I didn’t get too far – the first step is to give them your email address!
I think I’m going to move to a cabin in the woods and eat berries.