Combat Data Collection with Childishness

NSA, CIA, CVS, FB, HULU, and a whole host of other acronyms are dead set on collecting and selling information about your life. If you’re thinking right now, “wwhhhhaaaaat, the government doesn’t sell our info”, I won’t insult you, your mind may be too frail to take the abuse anyway.

 

Many people such as myself take issue with this, but I don’t intend to discuss the merits as to why or why not this is actually a problem. Rather I’d like to offer a few suggestions to those like minded individuals who abhor this type of behavior. Before I delve into my bullet pointed list (things look official when you use bullet points), there is one behavioral aspect you will need to be comfortable with before implementing any of them and that is childishness.

 

My reasoning for this is simple, acting in a childish manner makes you unpredictable. Unpredictability is good, mix with a little misdirection and you have the F you recipe for those who want to profit by collecting your info. Here are some examples:

 

  • Hulu – I personally pay for this service, which makes the collection of my personal usage data even more infuriating (yes, I know I agreed to the terms of service). If this bothers you as well here are a few things I do to at least make me feel like I am fighting back a little.

    • If you’ve watched anything on Hulu lately you may have noticed they now give you a choice as to which advertisement you would like to watch. When presented with this option I make a point to pick the things I am least likely to purchase or use. I tend to lean toward feminine products, cleaning supplies, and credit cards, none of which do I have any use for.

    • Watch shows you hate … well not really, you don’t have to watch them just start a show that you can’t stand, put your computer on mute and shut off the screen. I let it run until it times out, yay Hulu now thinks I love Ally McBeal … mission accomplished.

    • Never rate, share, or comment on anything unless you do so sarcastically. Don’t worry, your real friends will know you were just being cheeky when you made Duck Dynasty one of your favorites … but Hulu won’t.

  • Amazon – I like shopping on Amazon, I honestly do, but it really grinds my gears when I log in and it suggests products for me, asks me for reviews, or to take surveys.

    • Obviously surveys are easy enough to give crap answers to, but you need to be consistent. They love to ask the same question in different ways, so pay a little attention and provide consistently crappy info.

    • Create ridiculous “Wish Lists”, pick things you would never in a million years want, and put them in your wish list. A fifty pound bag of coarse sand to rub in Woodhouse’s eyes … sure why not, a segway? hell yeah they rock, any Apple product ever made? throw it in the wish list. Amazon now believes you actually want these things, well played playa.

    • One thing I do not screw around on are product and store reviews. Here I am completely 100% honest and tell it like it is. This is for two reasons, first my review (good or bad) may actually help another customer like me. Second, leaving a shitty review for a store or product which is disingenuous only hurts that retailer and I’m not out to screw with the little guy.

 

  • NSA – clearly this is a dangerous one, but this list wouldn’t be complete without a few simple suggestions on how to deal with being constantly monitored.

      • Conversations – Since you are being listened to anyway, start out every other conversation with the phrase “The NSA is listening, lets use code 12b”. Then continue to have a normal conversation. It makes me smirk every time I think about some NSA goon trying to decypher a cryptic code in my conversations when there is none. Kind of like “A Beautiful Mind”, oh crap don’t do this, you may give NSA agents schizophrenia.

      • Texting – every now and then I send a “coded” text message to a random number I pick out of a hat. It all means nothing, but like the new HTC commercial with Tony Sta … I mean Robert Downy Jr., when I send “MMA TMNT TBD” it could mean anything or it could mean “Meet Me At The Mall Next To The Big Dumpster”.

    • Find other ways to communicate – Not a novel idea by any means, but something to consider. I used to love playing on the CB radio as a child, and there are a plethora of “walky talky” apps out there for smart phones like Voxer. Just remember to do your research, look through the permissions the app needs when installing it to your device, and note if your messages are being stored in the cloud. I will do more research into this and give some “safe” examples in a future post.

 

  • SuperMarkets/Drug Stores – if you were not aware that most if not all stores who offer a “discount” card, record your purchases and sell that info, well now you are. Some people argue that it is just the price of using the card and saving money. I am not in that camp, and while I don’t have many of these discount cards the ones I do have have the following characteristics.

    • None are in my real name, or bear my real address. Cody Fakertin, and Dominic Nonamebro are some of my favorite aliases.

    • They are used rarely, I avoid these things so much I usually forget I have them.

    • When they are used, I will often pick up a few items I do not need, just to return them a few days later. Why? Just to skew the numbers a bit more, I will admit I do not do this often, but it makes me smile when I do.

  • FaceBook – just stop using it, there is no punchline here, seriously grow up.

In conclusion, is what I would say here if I was using this as a speech, which I will actually be doing next week at my friends wedding as his best man. I was told not to embarrass him with awkward stories of times long past, so I will embarrass him by putting no effort in, and just reading what I wrote for this article, and yes his wedding gift is going to be a CVS discount card under the name “R. U. EmbarrassedBro”. Remember at the beginning I said this would be childish, challenge completed.