There was a recent post on Buzzfeed talking about a man who wanted to come out to his parents and texted a friend about how to do it. Immediately following his conversation, when he logged into Facebook, there was an ad for a “Coming Out Coach.” So naturally, he thought Facebook was looking into his texts (Facebook says it can’t). A serious privacy concern, especially because Canada just ruled that text messages are private.

What is more likely to have happened, this man had liked, commented, or looked at something that would have matched the ad’s SEO. Facebook has the ability to track everything you do when its page is open. These supercookies (used by many companies) build a digital profile on each user and can suggest or hide content that you would not be interested in.

Humans are creatures of habit. Thus making predictions about what is going on is easy with enough information. While some may say this is an issue of personal privacy, it is really something to admire the power of analytics and technology. These same predictive analytics allowed Target to guess a girl was pregnant before her father knew.

So getting a coupon for diapers may be nice, how far is too far when it comes to what companies track and what they don’t? Also, what do companies do with children? When data is about purchases and web history, age isn’t part of it. However, if companies can guess when someone’s pregnant, then they should be able to guess a user’s age. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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