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AT&T is selling your phone calls and text messages to marketers, how to opt out (reddit.com)
430 points by giuliomagnifico 45 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 122 comments

https://cmp.att.com/cmpportal/ <-- this is where you go to opt out

Just wanted this to be at the top in case anyone is allergic to reddit threads.

Turns out my family was "opted in" even though we never gave any consent for this (and we certainly never would if asked).

To quote the top reddit comment: "Get f*ed at&t"

This post made me look into my ISP, it seems I was opted in for a bunch of nonsense as well. If anyone uses xfinity, you can opt out here:


And here's the one for Spectrum (Charter):


Thank you for the link I opted out as well.

Thanks for this!

As an aside, they have a terrible UI/UX for this - it's probably on purpose. They could have easily put all of those permissions on a single page.

IMO, the UI/UX isn't too bad (not great either). The per-line thing makes sense if you have multiple individuals on the account and want to opt in (I've never heard of such people, just saying). The toggles are straightforward although this is a rank lower in UX compared to the standard email "unsubscribe" pages, IMO. The more egregious thing is this is opt-out instead of opt-in ... probably something we need legislation to solve.

I couldn't actually figure out how to opt out of third-party tracking. They say I have to visit my wireless account, but not sure where to from there.

> Understanding the Products, Services and offers that you, and other AT&T customers with whom you call and text and interact, might enjoy the most. We do not use the content of your texts, emails or calls for marketing or advertising.

> The keyword here is content. They don't use the content of the messages and calls, just the metadata (numbers that communicated, duration, etc). That information alone could be very revealing though.


$10 says we'll find out in a few years that the content was included... and this was "just the tip" strategy.

ebay now lets you request all of the data they have on you (unsure if that means sold or not). I've requested a ton, and you can too: https://www.sarweb.ebay.com/sar

IANAL but that seems like something that may genuinely be a legal liability, even hating AT&T I feel a bit skeptical.

Tell you what, you can pay me your $10 out of the settlement check we'll all be getting over this.

What, you expect jchw to just come up with the other $7 out of their own pocket?

I'm still waiting for my equifax settlement.

Look to what they do for the government now to get an idea of what they will monetize 10 years from now. Most of the crowd here is probably too young to remember when room 641A was exposed. Several years later, we had Snowden reveal even more with the prism program and bulk collection of metadata. Today, we're here discussing ATT's monetization of the metadata they began collecting and analyzing for the government. Post-9/11, the government was all about behavioral targeting to identify terrorists. Every other day, we're on here talking about Google and Facebook doing it for money. What is the government contracting for today? That's the big tech business of tomorrow.

And the same 'mea culpa' that Google gave when it was revealed that yes, they were in fact grabbing your network traffic as well when they drove their street view car past your house.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2010/may/15/google-ad...

If it's metadata plus content of your contacts' web searches, etc., then the distinction becomes meaningless.

If you have a phone call with a friend about widgets and then they google for it just after the call, a wise marketer might think they should show you some ads for the same thing just in case.

Just pray your friend doesn't google something illegal or distasteful just after they get off the phone with you.

"Meaningless" seems to overstate your case.

Yes, it was hyperbole. My point was that metadata combined with other data becomes a super powerful tool.

You might guard your own privacy 100% but have a conversation with someone who doesn't. If you share interests, then your privacy op sec is now compromised in a way completely out of your hands.

You can learn so very much about a person and build a highly accurate and surprisingly detailed "profile" of them from just the "metadata" of their calls and text messages [0].

They almost certainly already know where you live and whom you live with, where you work, where you shop for groceries and hang on, where you travel to on vacation, and so on.

For many years now, they've been capturing this "metadata" (at minimum) anyways -- to hand over to the U.S. Government on a daily basis -- so we really shouldn't be surprised that they decided to take advantage of that and use this information in any way that they can.

Personally, for quite a while now, my "default" has been to automatically assume that pretty much ANY data I provide to any company WILL be kept -- forever -- and used in absolutely any way whatsoever they they desire and/or for any purpose, including "sharing" it with any other company to be used in any way and for any purpose (and even if they aren't right now, that can change at any time).


As an aside, Gen. Hayden (former DIRCIA/DIRNSA) testified that, "We kill people based on metadata".


[0]: Additionally, any "missing pieces" of their profile of you can probably be "filled in", thanks to their access to your (Internet) data that also travels across their network. Of course, I'm sure they would NEVER do anything like that -- nor anything they might ever need "retroactive immunity" for!

Your ISP sells your data, your mobile phone carrier sells your data and the apps on your phone sell your data. But it is anonymized so it is no big deal, right? Well, it is not anonymized enough and they sell just enough data that unscrupulous middle ware advertising companies are buying that data and then identifying user information including home addresses.

I am copying and pasting another comment I made on another thread:

"Companies are now promoting data services to advertisers that allow a company to install a cookie on their website and, by just having a user complete a site visit, match an IP address to a physical mailing address with claimed 90% + accuracy. Don't believe me? Check out this company: https://www.eltoro.com/. One of many companies that have recently popped up offering just such a service."

This is achieved by layering user data from mobile applications and user data from ISPs and mobile carriers. Combined it is enough to do some scary stuff.

Given that most services are unlimited, I would like more apps to maintain 10% randomized utilization.. ATT can try to find my data in the sh*t I use to bring down their network and scum bags in the desert can store my possibly encrypted 100mb/s streams indefinitely.

True random data is pretty easy to filer.... you'll never do it twice.

True random data is just as incompressible as cipher text so you can either save both or neither for later analysis. For searches one can derive walks and repeat them. In any case, the adversary needs to store more and more data to derive an unimproved analysis and the costs ruin their offerings.

This is as circumstantial as it gets. I think this is happening, then I saw an ad that confirmed my original thoughts and thus this lofty claim must be true.

Its similar to that Reply-All story where they looked into whether the claim that FB was listening in on people's discussion, and despite there being no physical way for it to happen, people still believed it.

I remember that story and they really failed to make a case. With as many security experts are constantly looking at the big apps like Messenger/Insta, you think someone would notice huge packets of audio data if this was happening.

I think what's much more likely is that machine learning algorithms are so good right now, they're able to determine what people are interesting in based on browsing habits and other metadata. Either that or they're using your location data and tracking what adverts people are physically seeing on signs/billboards.

So you may think your app is listening to you because you get an ad for something you talking about, but you don't realize you talked about it because your brain subconsciously registered a billboard over and over again.

> I think what's much more likely is that machine learning algorithms are so good right now, they're able to determine what people are interesting in based on browsing habits and other metadata.

I and a friend were discussing this before that podcast. He was of the opinion that FB was very likely listening because he had multiple occurrences where he'd visit family, and they'd talk about something, either some product that family was interested in or had just bought, and hours to a couple days later he'd see an advertisement for it.

My stance (which looks to be the same as yours) was that they don't even need to listen to you, and doing so would probably be really bad if it was found out. Instead they know who you're around, they what that they're interested in, and they make some educated guesses and tag you as interested in stuff they are also or that they just bought, and it's the hits that stick in our mind, not the random other stuff you were shown that you never talked about with others but they had searched for or bought.

Throw enough data at he problem, you'll get some hits. There's a lot of data out there right now.

Yes. If you visit someone's home and connect to their wifi, every app on your phone can record that you are there. They record the other people that are there, too. If one of those people has been reading websites about topic X, the ad networks record a high interest in that topic. It makes sense to advertise X to the people close to that person.

It may also be obscure enough that no one has noticed. Voice can probably be compressed using a lossy algorithm pretty heavily before it becomes useless for keyword matching. Maybe there's some sort of de-duping, and unique results are only sent up once per day/week, etc. If it's encrypted, it might look like random other telemetry.

About ten years ago, I discovered that one of the major "rate you shopping experience"-type survey providers had a feature where shoppers would be tagged at the beginning of their session, and if they were randomly selected, everything they did on the website was recorded (including text entered in fields, etc.). When they checked out, they'd get a pop-up asking if they wanted to complete a survey. If they answered "no", supposedly that recording was deleted, but who knows? There was certainly no indication that answering "yes" would result in it being saved indefinitely for playback by the marketing department.

The only reason I found it was that I was curious about some binary data that would be uploaded every once in awhile. It wasn't hard to take apart (zlib, I think), but the standard tools didn't catch it at all because it was a custom thing developed by that vendor. I've still never seen anyone discuss it publicly, despite it having been very common on online stores for years.

It could also be that no one is doing marketing analytics based on voice recordings, of course. I just wouldn't take it for granted that someone would have found it and disclosed it.

See https://shkspr.mobi/blog/2020/09/podcasts-on-floppy-disk/ for a recent experiment in how far you can intelligibly compress voice these days

huge packets of audio data

Not that it's actually happening, but the best cell network speech codecs use ~6kbits/s, and it's probably possible to go lower with reduced speaker identifiability. You also only need to record when there's speech detected, and can delay and/or batch transmissions.

I don’t see why they would even have to send the actual audio bits over the wire...? Couldn’t the phone just do some work on audio and send the data after?

Gotta use all those computers in the datacenter for something...

Maybe we should stop taking the "it's listening to you" thing seriously, but it's still creepy. The fact that people think it does means we're way over the creepy line in how much tracking is happening, regardless of exactly how advertisers are getting their data.

Facebook doesn't have to listen to us for that to be happening though.

Purina Dog Chow purchases "Qualified Leads" from marketers who have lists of people interested in Dog Food.

We have no idea where they get those lists. If you play Candy Crush, and that third party app has Microphone access it could be collecting the data, and selling it to marketing agencies, which then sell the qualified leads to Purina dog chow.

You are still being listened to and your information sold. It just happens on Facebook more than it being Facebook's fault directly.

Indeed we have to remember that when assessing the likelihood of a coincidence, it’s not the odds of any given event, but the odds that none of the many possible events you might recognize occur

Americans like to complain about EU data protection laws because it makes it somewhat harder for your startup to handle customer data globally...

But, you know, those same laws do a good job of preventing shit like this.

I hate that so much. "Complying with your regional laws makes it harder for my business to scale!" As if gigantic jurisdiction spanning global/national firms were desirable things everyone wants. CCPA is a great example. If a company thinks it's hard to deal with California, I'm happy for them not to, and let a local firm pop up that delivers on the terms I want (CCPA compliance).

The issue is that you get less choice and the only winners are large corporations who can handle it.

They know the regulations are tough, so they can corner the market and up charge accordingly.

(Big) Profits are not made in competitive markets.

Americans have been marketed to by American marketing firms and consultants that the GDPR is difficult and costly to implement. As an American that worked in the EU and had to implement GDPR compliant systems there is so much FUD spread about it. A lot of it is company momentum to not implement the easy stuff, ie. "we've never encrypted our data. What if we forget the passwords?!" And the rest is ease of access, "marketing needs access to billing information. We've always been able to use it so why should we have to ask permission?"

GDPR is difficult and costly to implement actually. But this should not be a reason to not have it.

Parts of GDPR is difficult to implement. And if your business model involves those parts then it would be costly, ie. costing you business.

Other parts are infosec best practices, anyone who is security conscious could look at it and say, "yeah, that makes sense."

I'm interested to know what parts are costly? I found it relatively easy to implement processes for 'right to be forgotten' and 'emergency breach notification' as well as the default opt-out of personal data and marketing. Not trivial, but not particularly expensive. The rest is exactly as you say, infosec best practice that my industry required in any case. The only expensive part I could see is right to be forgotten, that is if you expect to get a lot of requests for your particular application's use case.

I’m curious to know as well. I don’t know all parts of GDPR, just the parts I worked on. But others keep telling me it’s super complicated so I’m just assuming there are complicated bits I’m unaware of.

I kind of agree, but it seems like we ought to be able to prohibit at least the covert sale of customer data without going full GDPR. Could Americans at least try out a GDPR-lite before going all in on the more extensive provisions?

You should ask your reps for GDPR because it'll be negotiated down to GDPR-lite during passage. If GDPR-lite is your opening position, you're not gonna get jack.

I can easily imagine the US "GDPR-lite" being something like an "independent" court that doesn't publish anything publicly except a final verdict, and companies like Facebook magically get a mix of low fines while smaller companies get absolutely fleeced on fines.

And this "independent" court will mostly target Google and Microsoft while taking crumbs from Facebook.

Coincidentally, Mark Zuckerberg will meet with the "independent" court frequently.

I think corporate power over our legal system is a separate problem. If we can't reign in corporations, then all hope is lost even if we magically pass full-blown GDPR (corporations will find and create loopholes, etc).

Good idea. Thanks for the suggestion!

> it seems like we ought to be able to prohibit at least the covert sale of customer data without going full GDPR.

The only effect this will have is making the sale of your data more overt rather than covert.

That seems strictly better to me. If I know that one phone manufacturer sells my data and another doesn't, that makes my choice pretty easily. Presently I want to buy a TV, but I really can't tell which if any manufacturers aren't selling my data.

> If I know that one phone manufacturer sells my data and another doesn't, that makes my choice pretty easily.

Well if you know your telecommunications services provider sells your data and the only other one also does it (if there even is a second one), that also makes your choice pretty easy - albeit in a null kind of way.

Sounds like a market opportunity. Someone gets to be the brand that doesn’t have the “Sells your data” warning sticker on the box, and there are enough people who care about this that Apple is marketing itself as a privacy focused company.

I don't know the US telco situation well enough, but I would assume either it is not profitable enough to provide this service, or the physical infrastructure is private, and it is prohibitively expensive and socially-wasteful to install parallel infrastructure.

> DNS Error Assist

> Sometimes we enter a wrong search word, or a wrong web address, or maybe the website we want is no longer in service. If this happens, the DNS Error Assist service automatically searches for similar or related terms and presents you some results that may be useful for you. Otherwise, you’ll get a “No results found” error message.

Ok, I'll try to turn it off.


Nope, it's broken.

Sprint and Verizon and T-Mobile do this too. Sprint sells your entire app usage too, as all their hardware runs on their proprietary versions of the given OS.

Can anyone find the direct opt-out URLs for those? I've tried on two laptops and five browsers, but I cannot use Verizon's website, the auth loop spins back and forth forever. I honestly think it is purposefully half broken or half fixed so I cant cancel my account ever.

For Tmobile prepaid, clicking the link above will take you to the main tmobile login page even if you're already logged in.

To get to it, goto the prepaid link above, login, then click "My T-Mobile" in the top right, then "Notifications and privacy" then "Privacy settings".

There's also another Do Not Sell My Information preference available here: https://www.t-mobile.com/dns

Not on iOS

It's my data. It's clearly valuable. I want my cut. Pay me.

There are a handful of obvious, simple ways to establish and protect personal privacy:

Extend property rights to all personal data. Then "privacy" is treated like every other asset, liability and protecting it is just bookkeeping.

Ban targeted ads. Ban freemium. Effectively eliminates most (non-govt) incentives for aggregating PII.

Require translucent database techniques to encrypt all PII data at rest. (Just like proper password persistence. Store salted hash, not the original value.)

Extra credit: Federal agency for credit ratings. Hellban all the non-govt agencies.

Just wait until you find out all the trendy SaaS platforms your employer subscribes to are also having their corporate data sold.

Of course. I should have thought of that. Ironically, now that corporations are people too, they'd also benefit from my solution.

Grandpa story time: mid aughts, the company (Quest Diagnostics) that acquired us was trying to figure out how to monetize all the awesome new patient data our product was aggregating. Labs, scripts, allergies, etc. Negotiations with MS, Google, pharmas. Our Zuck and Thiel equivalents were electrified by the prospects. Us nerds were horrified. I now forget which specific ruling killed the idea. But it now occurs to me that I should have leaned in. At the time I was still trying to find, invent, steal a technical solution and had not yet figured out that's impossible.

Haha, I was not suggesting corporations should enjoy the same inherent rights as people but it’s still pretty bad. Amounts to corporate information theft sold to anyone willing to pay.

There’s healthcare providers who sell patient data today still. It’s “anonymized” of course but if you want to know the history a given medication or procedure is performed on a per-patient basis, that’s all available. It’s just an anonymous identifier and somewhere someone checked a box that grants permission to resell that info, so it’s unfortunately legally acceptable under current law.

Damn. I didn't know "anonymized" patient data was being monetized. I've been out of healthcare IT since 2009. For two reasons.


Since I'm a slow learner, it took me a long time figure out that big data will always win in the anon/deanon arms race. I don't really grok "differential privacy", so I just say it quantifies how much one has to fuzz the data to protect any single individual, given the data's bounds. But even then it requires the "honor system" to prevent others from using additional data to deanon fuzzed data.

It really clicked for me during a demo of Seisent (now owned by LexisNexus). Given enough data sources, the errors cancel out, so there's no way to hide or be an imposter. You'd stick out. Their sales team gave some examples of law enforcement using their tool to close cold cases. Not in so many words, because people would freak out, but basically: instead of finding the needle in the haystack, they rule out everyone who couldn't be the perp, and any one remaining is a suspect, and one of them has to be the bad guy. So then they work backwards, just like working around tainted evidence. (I've since had this theory confirmed by a professional bounty hunter. He was very surprised a layperson figured this out.)

I've talked to a lot (20+) healthcare startups, and attended confs and meetups, since. As of two years ago, exactly none of them understood the problem space or patient privacy. And I just don't have the goodwill or energy to refight those battles with another crop of noobs.


Most of us in our startup wanted to "fix" healthcare. Our contribution was going to be portable medical records. Specific initial use cases were to prevent mistakes due to missing patient history. Over time we got really good at showing our clients their own data, which became the prime selling point.

It eventually became clear that only a single payer system would have the juice to force all the competitors to play nicely. Good so far. The Bush Admin intended to allocate $17b federal grants to make it happen. Alas. Their mortgage default dumpster fire, causing the 2008 economic meltdown, and all federal juice went poof. Sadly, the Obama Admin didn't pick up that mantle. (They had other ideas about data sharing, which seemed naive at the time, but I haven't gone back to see who was more right.)

This isn't just a sob story. Ironically, I came to understand that one viable strategy to protecting patient privacy requires a top-down approach. Like a Real ID for medical data and services. Until that, or something better, happens, I just can't muster any interest.

> I want my cut. Pay me.

They very well could say that their product teams (internet, tv, cellular, etc) take the data they sell into account when determining prices and thus prices are lower since barely anyone opts-out of selling the data.

Yup. That's why I've adopted Sen Mark Warner's idea of banning fremium. It's no way a cure all. But hopefully a step in the right direction.

Am eager to hear your thoughts, proposals.

We must not rule out the possibility that rogue apps are siphoning data for ad targeting, especially given AT&Ts Privacy Policy: "We do not use the content of your texts, emails or calls for marketing or advertising".

AT&T _could_ choose to violate this policy but I imagine it would open them up to legal risk that they would not want.

Doesn't work on prepaid plans.... Anyone know how to access this and turn it off for these users?

This link was given in the thread but is limited to CA residents: https://www.att.com/cmp/ccpa/dnsatt

Took less than a minute just now to opt out for all of my phone numbers. They don't give you a single yes/no switch to opt out - you have to set each phone number to "no" for each of several services - but all things considered, it was pretty quick.

> Our system doesn't seem to be cooperating. Sorry for any inconvenience. Please try again later

That’s my experience

you shouldn’t have to learn about this by some rando reddit post. when a company adds some new egregious monetization scheme to something that a customer has a reasonable expectation of privacy to there should be a notice to the customer.

Well if you have credit cards and you opted out of them selling/"sharing" your data with 3rd parties, you should keep a lookout for whenever they send you a new card or an "upgraded" card or any large packet that contains a change of terms. Each time they do that, you have to call them or send them a form asking to opt-out again. That's right. Once is not enough. You have to constantly opt-out each time they send you new card agreement. If I remember correctly, you have 30 days to opt-out again or you'll be automatically part of their data "sharing" program.

In other words, it should be opt-in, not opt-out.

Looks like the page is buggy. I keep getting a "Our system doesn't seem to be cooperating. Sorry for any inconvenience. Please try again later" error.

They're getting hugged to death between Reddit and now HN. I had the same thing happen, just waited a minute then refreshed the page and was able to get in.

You’d think a company like ATT would build things for scale

You significantly overestimate the engineering capability of the telecoms industry. They have very little technical skill in-house, most of the software is written and supported by their equipment suppliers (Ericsson, Huawei, etc) and the customer-facing part were outsourced to the lowest bidder years ago and never maintained again.

This is typical for ATT. I get it all of the time when trying to verify my account for things like HBO Max and other networks' apps. It's very frustrating when you are wanting to watch a live sporting event they are not broadcasting and are only making available via streaming, yet you can't see it because the company that authorizes you can't be reached.

"This page was written by someone we got cheap and didn't check their work. Have a nice day!"

How does one opt-out when they are part of a multi-user plan and do not have access to the online account management?

I would suggest contacting your network administrator.

Is there a cell phone service that actually secures your account and data (prevents people from sim swapping, etc)?

Google Fi, as a Google product, has effectively zero customer support, so I don't think an attacker could social engineer their way to a sim swap. /s, only a little.

Actually, their customer service support is very good. Source: I've had to call their customer support. I had an issue with my VOIP number I ported over not working properly, they fixed it.

They'll probably prevent a sim swap, but I don't know about not using my personal data.

I'd love to use this, but it's very expensive and unclear if it works with iPhones. My T-Mobile Connect plan is $25/mo, this is four times that. Granted, this one has unlimited data rather than 5GB/mo but I don't need that.

Which speaks to the subsidy and scale effects of surveillance capitalism.

Verizon's Privacy Settings page:


Verizon's Account Settings page has an evil dark pattern. The link to the Privacy Settings page does not appear in the menu. There is a Privacy Dashboard link which also does not contain a link to the Privacy Settings. I only found the link to Privacy Settings after submitting a request to Verizon to delete the data they have stored about me.

I would switch to a mobile service provider that cared about its customers, if one existed. The options in my area are AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, their subsidiaries, and Google.

If Verizon is your ISP (e.g., FIOS), opt-out page is here: https://www.verizon.com/consumer/myverizon/internet

Then "Manage Online Advertising Preferences"

We were opted in by default.

Also (they claim) you can delete previous information collected on you at: https://www.verizon.com/privacy/secure/delete

They also sell this data to hedge funds who can use it to try to predict retail sales.

I'm kind of skeptical of that. Do you specifically mean location metadata (I'm aware that happens), or do you actually mean AT&T sells access to datasets which map semantic content in the call to specific brands and products?

Credit card transaction data has a much higher signal for the same purpose and is just easier to work with.

Just location metadata which the hedge funds overlay with known retail locations.

This appears to be the (confusing/dark pattern-esque) setting for opting out of "Enhanced Relevant Advertising":

Allow Use of Information:[No] Restrict User:[Yes]

Related: Here's a giant list of opt-outs for a fair few companies:


I opt-ed out from my Comcast ISP after reading this. Next while in my Verizon account I went to my privacy settings on multiple devices, and updated browsers and I had nothing but redirect notices about not being able to connect to the site. I called Verizon, to make my concerns known and was finally sent a link via text, to finally change my settings to Opt-out. Ridiculous. Thank you for your post.

Hmm wondering if I could make a bot to fake/overwhelm a system like this. Like be a rediculous demographic that doesn't exist.

Bot detection is sooooooooo strong though. Especially if someone wants to stop you.

This is completely circumstantial - Did you have Amazon Alexa nearby? Or Google Assistant? More likely they "overheard" your conversation than ATT doing this.

It's erroring out when I try to change it. Feature or bug?

This is one of the many things I point to when asked questions such as "Why would you trust your VPN provider more than your ISP?"

Are you suggesting that a VPN provider couldn't do the same? Many VPN providers have been caught selling their customer data too.

"I don't trust either, but I'm confident my ISP would sell me out for 12¢ if given the chance."

A lot of phone companies are doing this.

I believe they call this data CPNI - Customer Proprietary Network Information.

Does this include MVNOs that use AT&T's network such as Net10?

How protected are you if you use encrypted communication (Signal, WhatsApp, iMessage, ...), Safari browser with an ad blocker, and encrypted DNS (eg Cloudflare)?

Also, who uses naked SMS and expects privacy??

how do we get our elected officials to legislate against these deceptive practices?

They've already started to. The only reason you can opt out is because of CCPA laws that just became effective this year.

Meta-data isn't count! It isn't really data. It just provides a graph of everyone you interact with. What's the problem?

And anyway, phone companies have to make a buck.. Its not like we're paying them for the service!

I’ve been in contact with Ingram Content data services to consume their book metadata api.

I was amazed by how strict some of their consumption rules are against, for instance, storing the metadata. This is data you’re paying for!

The docs claim it’s to improve the end user experience but I imagine it’s primarily to protect their interests as data brokers.

It really jars me how metadata so inconsequential, like the year a book in the commons was published, can be so strongly legally protected by a party that didn’t even initially produce that number meanwhile we have so little say or protections when it comes to the personal data we first-class produce.

I’m becoming more and more of the opinion that people in the US are second class citizens behind corporations.


Did you forget the /s ?

/s neuters sarcasm completely. In my opinion if you won't commit to being facetious online because you're afraid someone will (inevitably) think you're being serious, then don't do it at all.

While I agree in general, I think HN's rules of conduct discourage posts that have even a small chance of misinterpretation.

(I can't quote the specific rule, but I seem to remember this from some feedback that @dang gave me a while ago.)

> I can't quote the specific rule,

"Avoid snark" is my first guess.

By that same argument, using a sarcastic tone of voice neuters sarcasm completely.

I don't really think that's comparable. Tone has more nuance and is a different medium of communication than the literal words you're saying. There are two channels of delivery there: the tone used to signify sarcasm, and the words you're saying. Tone is more subtle and you can modulate it to be more or less obvious. For example, you could opt for a dry delivery using little to no sarcastic tone (which is what typing sarcasm without /s is closest to, in my opinion).

When you use /s, you're disclaiming the sarcasm immediately and in the same delivery as the words. It doesn't resemble tone at all, because you can't choose to be subtle. You don't get a beat in which the other person is initially surprised and then "gets it."

:) welcome to the great divide between spoken British-English & spoken American-English

It's fantastic. (Please stop reading here if you are British.) /s

But if my mommy isn't hovering over my shoulder to tell me someone was making a funny, my feelings will get crushed.

Had me in the first half

Kill your cell phone.

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