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Sales Pitches From Your Refrigerator (New York Times)

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Everyday devices are getting smarter, more connected. Soon your refrigerator will tell you when it’s time to buy milk. But as long as the fridge is making suggestions, why not suggest a particular brand? And did you know you can save 10 cents if you also buy the same brand’s new ice cream?

Read Ryan’s piece here.

Sales Pitches on Your Refrigerators

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Everyday devices are getting smarter, more connected. Soon your refrigerator will tell you when it’s time to buy milk. But as long as the fridge is making suggestions, why not suggest a particular brand? And did you know you can save 10 cents if you also buy the same brand’s new ice cream?

What Does It Really Matter If Companies Are Tracking Us Online? (The Atlantic)

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The Atlantic explores the erosion of online privacy through the lens of Ryan Calo’s “Digital Market Manipulation”:

A new paper by professor Ryan Calo at the University of Washington goes the furthest I have seen in elucidating the potential harms of digital-ad targeting. And his argument basically boils down to this: This isn’t about the sanctity of the individual or even, strictly speaking, about privacy. This is about protecting consumers from profit-seeking corporations, who are gaining an insurmountable edge in their efforts to get people to part with their money.

How Online Advertisers Could Use Your Data Against You

We all know about the data being collected on us by advertisers while we’re online. But what are the ethical ramifications of collecting this data? Ryan Calo, professor at the University of Washington, has written on the future of digital marketing in the Stanford Law Review Online and joins Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson to discuss the different ways data can be used against you.

Seeing the Data a Company Collects

While that kind of pervasive surveillance may be useful for companies, it could also make consumers more vulnerable to pitches for products that are not necessarily good for them, said Ryan Calo, an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law who studies consumer privacy. In a recent research paper on industry practices, he imagined a hypothetical obese consumer who tries to avoid snacking but receives an ad on his mobile phone from the nearest doughnut shop exactly when he is least likely to resist.

“That is a dangerous direction,” Mr. Calo said, “because it starts to figure out what makes each of us vulnerable.”