Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

If I'm manipulated into buying something that I genuinely want, then I'd be happier for it.

It's not as if seeing an ad for a $100 256GB SSD would make me skip looking up the reviews for it and evaluating its performance before I buy it.

It's mystifying to me why people are bothered by targeted ads. If ads become relevant to me, that'd be a wonderful thing. I'm not saying I'm right -- I'm saying I wish someone would explain why targeted advertising is evil.

It is evil because:

1. I get no say in what information they store and use. If somebody else used my computer, that information is associated with me.

2. The more information companies have about me, the easier it is for the government to gather information without due process.

3. What is gathered about me can be stolen by somebody else.

I agree that, in theory, well targeted ads are far superior to the dating ads I get on Facebook, but with zero control, transparency or accountability, I'm very uncomfortable with the amount if info they are trying to gather from me.

I'm not bothered by targeted ads. I'm bothered by the idea that someone who has amassed all the information about me to show me well targeted ads can do other things as well.

For instance, they could sell pseudo psychological profiles or provide scoring services to potential employers, banks, insurance companies, landlords, users of dating sites or governments.

They could be subpoenaed and hence make me vulnerable to extortion by everyone with a sufficiently large legal budget or a political interest. The data could also be stolen by organized criminals.

In other words, it would give great power over my life to anyone who gets hold of that data, and therefore I do not want this kind of data to exist.

> If I'm manipulated into buying something that I genuinely want, then I'd be happier for it.

But do you genuinely want it? or were you _influinced_ into wanting it? It's the same principle that makes fast food advertisements so profitable for the food industry. The ads are already targeted (most people like to eat tasty food).

Furthermore, if you're truly indifferent with being influenced like this, to what extent will the "influencing" remain acceptable to you? where would you draw the line?

The issues with eroding privacy and with the amount of data needed to create targeted advertising are well explored, thus to expand the discussion a bit, lets talk about the subjects outside the scope of privacy.

Advertising, be that targeted or not, are problematic. In return for redirecting how people spend money, they distract people and steals time.

A child growing up is in average spending 133 hours watching TV commercials[1]. Add that with commercials on the web, games, and other media and the time spent on commercial is maybe longer for a child then what they spend learning a subject like math in school. If you then include the time lost from the distracting effect while reading email, or accessing a news site, and the cost of advertising to the individual goes up. People who's main problem at work or school is the ability to focus should strongly consider using tools such as ad-block. It could be the difference between graduating or not.

In contrast, opt-in advertising like recommendation services do not have those issues, and are in my view the only form of targeted advertising that are morally on the OK side. They use primarily legal methods in their businesses model, and do not need to use exploits and legal trickery to work.

[1]: http://www.statisticbrain.com/television-watching-statistics...

People aren't bothered by the targeted ads. They're bothered by what else can be done with that vast, accumulated store of information and the network that's designed for surveillance, tracking and predicting behavior. For a lot of people, facebook is their identity. It's the way others see them and communicate with them, and their account holds a great deal of personal information which could be used to impersonate, blackmail or profile them.

The whole point of manipulation is to make you go against your own interests and buy things you don't need, at some point down the road. Otherwise it would just be making you aware that something exists (which I agree is fine, targeted or not), not manipulation.

Applications are open for YC Winter 2021

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact