What you Browse & Buy Can be Used Against You

By “Used against you” I mean: How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did, a compelling (and compellingly succinct) analysis of the New York Times’ How Companies Learn Your Secrets.

If you use the internet or shop online or in stores, you owe it to yourself to read those two stories.

I have no doubt that the big real estate sites such as Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, Redfin are doing this type of deep analysis – and if you use Facebook, everything you do online is being tracked – but I’m curious as to what the triggers or specific data points are that demonstrate that a consumer is moving towards the buying or selling phase of life.

My guesses at which search queries are indicative of this shift -

- moving to (a specific location)
– buying a home in (Charlottesville)
– best schools in (Charlottesville)
– homes for sale close to (UVA)
– Best neighborhoods in (Charlottesville)

Those are obvious. I’m wondering if a sudden surge in purchases of Magic Erasers or Windex or storage facilities or which combinations of such purchases are indicative of a life stage shift …

And, the author’s suggestion to use cash to prevent companies from tracking you? That could make you a terrorist. (and if you have a cell phone, you’re being tracked anyway)

Update: Stephen Colbert nails it; naturally.

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