Most of us have had the experience of commenting on the Internet and then being bombarded by related advertisements. If I am looking for a park in the region to cycle, very soon a news page will show advertisements for bicycles, helmets, and related items. But in addition to targeted advertising, what else can the Internet handle? Let’s see what we do on the Internet, what it learns, and how it uses that knowledge.
What we do online
On a normal day, I wake up with my cell phone alarm and take the opportunity to see if there are any more urgent messages in the apps. Still lying, I stretch and pass quickly through the news screen. I respond to an invitation to an important meeting that I had been waiting for since yesterday. I prepare for the day, make coffee while listening to an online radio. At the table, the children announce a statement from the school, I open the email, we talk about it. Destination work: the traffic app changes my itinerary; heavy traffic ahead. I work at a fast pace, stop two or three times for a few minutes to watch the news, sports, and search for weekend trips. The social network suggests a random application that holds my attention for a few seconds, I end up installing it to look at it later. Nothing that impacts my work, refreshes the mind. On the way back from work, I stop at a store, I liked the product, but I compare prices on the Internet, I decide to buy online. At home, we have dinner and watch videos online. Before going to sleep I relax by seeing random photos on social media, sending some messages to friends, and ending the day.
What did the Internet learn and do about my day?
Before waking up: the phone detected restless sleep, as in the last 3 months, the same period in which I spent more time enjoying darker and blue photos and started to communicate with less friends. Detected signs of anxiety and mild sadness.
Waking up in bed: growing interest in a person, daily viewing of their status on social media, but the interest is not matched. The eyes stop for a moment on an offer of sophisticated kitchen utensils, there is interest, but I am intrigued because I never researched anything like that, but the advertisement was based on the interest of 3 other close friends.
Over breakfast: the family has 2 children, students from a private upper middle-class school. International travel detected. Classical music on the radio confirms the social and economic level, compared with the profiles of other listeners.
Going to work: a resident of an upscale neighborhood makes his way to a high-end commercial building. Without fanfare, the traffic app takes the path to showcase a new development in the region. The application sells the visit to the construction company and informs the possible interest. Later the venture is shown on the spouse’s social network timeline and to close friends. Without realizing it, it will be a topic in the tennis club.
During work: the sites visited continue to learn from the usage pattern. In the last few months, less communication has been detected with the spouse, searches about divorce with children, and growing interest in someone else’s page. High risk of separation? Knowing the statistical end of this trend, the social network takes advantage and offers a relationship app. Offer accepted.
At the end of the day: a visit to a sports equipment store was detected. The online store wants to compete and takes advantage of a quick reading of news to make its offer of tennis rackets, the same model that a friend suggested a few days ago via text message. Online purchase made! The online video application filters and presents romantic comedies and light films, in a clear attempt to improve sleep quality. The social network also avoids showing the darkest and darkest pictures, presenting colorful and more relaxing images. It is the end of an experiment that I participate without knowing, for several months I was bombarded by news, photos and videos that are sadder and darker than usual. Friends’ posts were hidden so communication with them would decrease. In the second phase of the experiment, my feelings will be manipulated and measured in the opposite direction, with more positive publications. The purpose of the experiment? Know if I am a better product when sad or happy.