The Hollywood actors’ and writers’ strike, and the subsequent difficulty promoting two of this summer’s blockbusters, Barbie and Oppenheimer, pushed the American industry to use so-called guerrilla marketing, with various memes about the confrontation between the two. movies circulating on social media. , promoting its viral distribution to potential viewers. In this context, services that exploit interest in these films began to appear. For example, the official Barbie Selfie Generator service from the Warner Brothers studio or BaiRBIE.me created by activists. In both cases, you will need to upload your photo to the service and provide your contact details. Someone thinks that this is a common practice for the subsequent sending of promotional spam. Having worked in the cybersecurity field for over 30 years, I view these services from a slightly different point of view and admit that this may be another way of collecting personal information about you and me and creating an aggregate profile of each person. .
Compiling a profile for each person allows you to understand all their strengths and weaknesses and manipulate it. Remember the story of Donald Trump’s first election, which involved the social network Facebook (owned by Meta, recognized as extremist and banned in Russia) and Cambridge Analytics, which claimed that the political beliefs, racial affiliation and sexual preferences of a person could be understood from a few likes? And that’s just for a few likes. Such information allowed the social network to display targeted ads or posts that could gradually change the attitude of Internet users towards certain topics and push them to make the right decisions. Who needs it?, you ask. “Someone,” I reply.
But let’s go back to the last story with the Barbie and Keno photo generator. By uploading your most recent photo and entering your email, you immediately give data collectors or sellers the opportunity to match your email address to a wide variety of previously collected data. For example, through your email you can find out which social networks you use and under which accounts. You can find out who you are texting (or not texting, which is also useful sometimes) and what your social circle is. The data is simply compared to your purchases at various online stores that you sign up for with your email. In the same place you usually indicate your phone number, which now allows you to link your profile with many other resources that include phone numbers. Your medical data, your toys, the way you communicate with voice assistants, the websites you visit, the mobile apps you use, etc.
And a photograph? It allows linking all the amount of data scrupulously collected by different states and companies with what is recorded by video cameras in public places, or with photographs taken in different parts of the globe. And now those who form digital profiles receive information about where you relax (even if you have not registered on social networks), where you go and what places you frequent, whether you go to concerts or rallies, etc. However, there is a nuance: a person tends to age, and his face can change over time, so the photo database must be updated. Forcing people to do it in any official way is inefficient and time consuming (success will tend to zero). But if you regularly create services like BaiRBIE.me or launch challenges like #10yearchallenge or #2009vs2019challenge, then people themselves of their own free will will take part in them and even involve their friends and colleagues in them. And with our own hands, giving unknown hands photos of ourselves in different periods of time, making it easier for those who will replace our digital profiles.
Now many will object to me because, in their opinion, “everything flew away long ago, and the new service will not affect anything.” Unfortunately, it is not. Information tends to get out of date. You can change your phone number, email, get older or even have plastic surgery, which means that previously collected data about you may become irrelevant. Services similar to BaiRBIE.me allow you to update key data in your profile, to which all other data collected later will be linked, which may be useful over time (or may not of course, but it’s like a joke about whether it is possible to meet a pink elephant on the street: 50/50, yes or no).
For too long we have been held hostage by modern services and devices that tremulously preserve the digital footprint we leave and cannot stop leaving. And it is unlikely that we can refuse to use these services. Just the next time you get a link to some “cool” service that requires you to provide your personal details, ask yourself a couple of classic (and proven) questions: “Who benefits from this?” and “Do I need to specify my personal data in this service?”. If the answers to these questions do not overcome the desire to play with your photos and see what a popular doll would look like if you gave it your face, then don’t be surprised later when another leaked database and your data are published on the Internet. will be found in it. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Well, yes, of course, when participating in such contests, use the “junk” email addresses that you created specifically for such companies. This will at least protect you a little and make life more difficult for those who form our digital profile with you and follow our digital trail.