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Who do you trust?

Back in September 2011, the most important senate judiciary hearings of our time were held to facilitate a determination that Google was either friend or foe to the American People.

Almost 5 years to the date, the conversation has leapfrogged past who’s evil and who isn’t in search results. We’ve skipped right to, “Is it OK to sell the information we’ve collected about a woman’s moon phase — from the $200 fitness device we sold her — to anyone who wants to sell her yoga pants, chocolate, feminine care products or anything else?”

Think I am exaggerating? A major retail brand selling devices sent me their ad sales deck 6 months ago laying out targeting just as you see it above. It got worse as I read through it and the targeting potential went off the rails fast. Women of a certain BMI like <insert product here>. When I asked about disclosure, the room went dark.

People are buying devices, uploading all kinds of information and the brands they trust are exploiting them, Matrix-style. If you need help with a visual, that fitness tracker you’re wearing makes you Neo to the Matrix prior to being unplugged.

I read the information fiduciary piece in The Atlantic and the follow up in AdExchanger(two publications on a very short list that I consider trustworthy) shortly thereafter and wondered if this debate will get passed over just like the last one, back 2011.

In the 2011 “interviews,” senators had 7 minutes to ask questions then 2 minutes to close. The 2 Senators from Minnesota had this awesome good cop bad cop routine that worked. Senator Chuck Schumer simply used the time to throw down a “mine is bigger” themed advert for NY Technology and Hudson Valley real estate.

Those testifying included Google, one of Google’s lawyers, a lawyer from the other side and 2 guys who compete with Google. I parodied the whole interaction (spoiler: Google wiped the floor with our elected officials) in a crude comic format (like the one you see above) so people could easily understand how they were just sold down (or is it up the Hudson Valley) the river.

Here we are in 2016 and I wonder, will the conversation once again trail off while we work on even bigger ways to erode trust?

Postscript, I never published the cartoon series, so if you want a copy of it, drop me a line. It’s HYSTERICAL.


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