Sunday, April 01, 2018

Leaking Clouds, Dark Days, Do Not Track... My Underwear

When marketing a novel, the received wisdom is -or used to be- that a reader must see the cover/title/author name at least seven times (presumably in a positive context) before that reader is inclined to purchase the book. Does it still work that way? Maybe. The ad-funded internet giants would like authors and publishers to believe that paid advertising works.

When marketing a song, the vinyl model was that it was worth giving radio stations one's blessing to play the song, because the more a song was heard, the more likely it was that a listener would like it, and the more a listener liked it, the more likely they were to buy the vinyl.

The internet is funded by advertising. Perhaps the biggest question is, who pays? (Quis solvit.)

For Crowell & Moring LLP,  legal blogger  Christopher A. Cole asks "Is the Cambridge Analytic Scandal a Watershed moment for the Ad-Funded Internet?

The legal blog article mentions the use of blackmail and dirty tricks to influence elections, and also the use of information scraped from Facebook "friends" for the purpose of psychological manipulation.

There's a lot of passive blackmail and extortion on the internet, anyway, and deleting social media accounts is not a viable solution. Public figures and would-be public figures are obliged to join social media sites to protect their own names and identities. We writers probably all know of someone who had to become "thereal...." because his or her real name or pen name had already been taken by someone else.

That does not mean that one has to give these sites one's true birthdate (as long as one can remember the lie), or be bullied into giving answers to their questions. Remember, the more you reveal online about cousins' names and memorable streets where you have lived, and school names, and youthful crushes, the less choice you have when filling out those banking secret questions/answers that have to be changed every few years.

Moreover, ages are not private. In "A Dark Day For Hollywood..." legal blogger Tony Oncidi for the law firm Proskauer Rose LLP reveals the gob-smacking truth that a Californian law prohibiting online commercial sites' publishing of Hollywood actors' ages is unconstitutional.

Apparently, it's a free speech issue. If a commercial site wants to sell true information about how old you are, even if you object, they may do so.

For the law firm of Morrison & Foerster LLP, legal bloggers John F. Delaney and Aaron P. Rubin reveal that over the first half of 2017, Facebook received almost 33,000 requests from law enforcement for user "data" and 57% of those "requests" forbade Facebook to notify the users that their information had been requested by the authorities.

Coming back to Christopher A. Cole, he suggests that advertisers who buy into "data analytics" to target their pitches will need to pay attention to the sources of the "data".

"Data", by the way, comes from the Latin "dare" (to give), and its singular "datum" used to mean "that which is given".  How ironic! (I shall now go back and edit to add a plethora of "give" words.)

I cannot help wondering if everyone is missing the woods for the trees. By what metric do the purchasers of advertising know if their advertising budget is well spent? Clicks, perhaps?

If advertising is the problem, it is helpful to know how pay per click (PPC) works.

Christopher Carr of Farotech tells us that 64.6% of people click on Google ads when they are looking to buy an item online.

Why buy online? Oh, yes, it is convenient. Instead of a check out clerk knowing that you buy (insert most embarrassing product) ... you'd rather risk all the internet and the Dark Web too knowing your buying habits, and embarrassing afflictions, and monetizing the knowledge.

But, if you want to buy online, why not do the research, clear your cookies and cache, and go directly to the website without clicking a Google ad link?

Perhaps the problem is not the ability to buy online, or the convenience of clicking through. It's the aggregators' interest in TARGETING the advertisements. Even that probably does not serve the purchaser of the advertising or the recipient of the advertising. If I bought a houseful of perfectly fragrant and safe, 30-year guaranteed hardwood flooring three weeks ago, how likely is it that I want to replace my new flooring with more of the same this week?

As a Romance writer, what am I supposed to think about the advertising executives at a brassiere-selling business if they seem to expect me to rip my bodices and need replacement underwear every single day?

Which brings me to Under Armour. They've been hacked. According to Lifelock, (2 days after Wired,  Fox and NBC broke the story) approximately 150 million social exercisers using the MyFitness Pal app need to change their passwords immediately.

Another tip:
Don't let your computer or your ISP or the "cloud" store your passwords for you.
By Peter Loshin

IMHO, permissionless "targeting" is akin to stalking. The most elegant legislative solution would be to give legal standing and force to a Do Not Track request. Right now, too many sites ignore a "Do Not Track" setting and install tracking cookies regardless.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

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