Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (2014) s09e07 Episode Script

Data Brokers

LAST WEEK TONIGH WITH JOHN OLIVER Welcome to "Last Week Tonight"! I'm John Oliver.
Thank you so much for joining us.
It has been another busy week.
The Senate confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, Elon Musk joined the board of Twitter, presumably to innovate new ways to make it even worse, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine continued to escalate, with reports of unfathomable horrors, strongly suggesting war crimes, if not genocide.
I know this is allegedly a comedy show, and I have said the most upsetting collection of words since "Louis C.
K.
wins Grammy for best comedy album.
" But we do need to at least briefly deal with what is going on in Ukraine, and particularly Bucha, site of some of the worst images to emerge this week.
Because Russian state TV is going out of its way not to.
Here is how one broadcaster there spun those terrible images of bodies in the streets.
There are people on the screen that are lying dead in the street with white armbands.
What does that mean? It means that after Russian forces left Bucha, the so-called liberators came in and they simply killed peaceful civilians.
On the screen, people are moving.
That means that actors were also involved.
A conclusion out of all of this is that to achieve their media goals, the Ukrainian Kyiv regime killed its own people.
So that man's official argument is Ukrainians killed their own civilians, who aren't civilians, they're actors who were just pretending to be dead, and the Ukrainian government itself is responsible for the real slaughter of its own fake civilians.
That is obviously ridiculous, and also ignores the first rule of lying: don't over-complicate.
There is a reason the line is, "I definitely have a girlfriend, she just goes to another school", and not, "I definitely have a girlfriend, she's actually twins, sometimes they merge and become one really big girl, I'd invite you to come over and meet them, but that might be confusing, because I am you from the future.
" Russian state TV has been grasping at straws all week, with a presenter at one point arguing, as evidence that Bucha was the site of a false flag attack, that "Biden said that Putin is a butcher.
Bucha sounds like 'butcher.
' How could they not take advantage of such a town?" Which is just insane.
If bad things only happened in places with names that sounded scary, all of America's worst shit would be happening in Tombstone, Arizona, Cape Fear, North Carolina, or Hell, Michigan, and not where it actually happens, Tallahassee, Florida.
But this flagrant lying is consistent with how Russia's state media has been dealing with this war from the beginning.
At first, they refused to even acknowledge that there was a war, let alone address casualties.
Just watch what happened last month when a military officer merely mentioned Russian deaths.
Our guys are really out there, both Donetsk and Luhansk (forces), and our special operation forces, they're dying now.
And our country No! I don't want to hear this! Wait! - They're dying anyway! - Stop! - They're dying anyway! - Can't you stop, or what? I just want us to stand up now and honor their memories at least with a minute of silence.
What are you doing? Our boys that are still fighting over there for Russia and for the Donbas.
Can you stop now? Close call there! Russian viewers almost learned that their troops were being killed until that host jumped up and screamed, "Whoa, ix-nay on the asualties-cay".
Some truly grade-A propaganda work there from the network that brought you "Shut Up About Vladimir Putin's Election Fraud" and "Poisoning Opponents? I Can't Hear You.
" It seems Russia is determined to deny the obvious and to justify the indefensible here.
But that is getting increasingly hard to do.
And if you think "those bodies are actually actors" is as pathetic as it got this week, just listen to Rossiya 24's ridiculous explanation.
This is how the preparation for performance, literally, of military actions in Ukraine is taking place.
As you can see, it's quite uncomplicated.
Two people in military uniforms carefully wrap the mannequin with tape, obviously, they are going to pass it off as a corpse.
That is clearly absurd, not only are the Ukrainian casualties obviously real that footage turned out to be part of a TV drama being filmed near St.
Petersburg last month.
If you're wondering which TV show, it's "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist.
" What can I say? Russian audiences really connect with the story of a woman forced to hallucinate a more joyful existence.
And there will be more to say about the Ukrainian situation as it develops.
But for now, let's move to a much less consequential story concerning OAN, the network with a logo that looks like it belongs on the side of a truck transporting refrigerator parts.
We've talked about OAN a few times over the years, primarily because they were Trump's favorite news outlet, as well as a perpetual source of misinformation about Covid and platform for pillow prince Mike Lindell's election-fraud documentary "Absolute Proof".
And yes, I am using the word "documentary" there with Christlike generosity.
This was a big week for OAN, although not in a good way, as one of their anchors explained.
Come Monday, you will no longer see One America News on a certain satellite provider, which I will not mention because I don't even like uttering their name out of my mouth.
Ah, yes, the hallmark of a great news network, bringing you hard-hitting news stories without specifics because they make the anchor sad.
The provider that he's referring to there is DirecTV, which is a subsidiary of a parent company I will not mention because I don't even like uttering their name out of my mouth.
Interestingly, as of Friday, AT&T officially no longer owns us, so it is goodbye from me, business daddy.
And let me say this, which is frankly two more bars than you have ever had.
Now, as we've mentioned before, AT&T was instrumental in OAN's rise, with about 90% of its revenue reportedly generated from its AT& and DirecTV deals.
But this past week, OAN was finally dropped by the provider, and not a moment too soon.
Its coverage of Ukraine, in particular, has been appalling, with this fucking guy suggesting that this bombing of a maternity hospital might have been a hoax.
So, what's the most recent story cooked up by the American Pravda? It turns out that the Russians, Democrats' favorite adversary, blew up a hospital, killing several people, including a child.
Perhaps war crimes are being committed, perhaps civilians are being murdered, but perhaps they aren't.
It is pretty maddening to watch neo-fascist Vin Diesel there question civilian casualties with the tone of a stoned teenager talking about penguins.
"Perhaps they're wearing little bird tuxedos, but perhaps they aren't?" Losing distribution on DirecTV is clearly a big blow to OAN, and they are not going out without a fight, as their owners are currently suing AT&T and DirecTV for $1 billion, claiming at one point in the suit that AT& breached a "non-disparagement provision" in their contract, because shows the company owned had been critical of them.
And here is where things get a bit fun.
Because it turns out, we're actually in that lawsuit.
It cites a number of things that I said about OAN in the past, like the fact they are "Fox News with less shame and even fewer scruples," and a "ragtag band of fascists" who are "happy to give a platform to batshit election fraud theories from America's most out-of-breath pillow fetishist.
" And while I am truly happy to have said all of those things, I cannot believe that they left out the fact that I also called this guy "decaf Pitbull" just last year, and frankly, I want that entered into the legal record.
And look, I do get that they are upset here.
Just as I get that they are an intellectually bankrupt organization full of grifters who've done nothing but make this country a worse place.
But perhaps this isn't the time for that.
And perhaps I am sorry for taking joy in their misfortune and kicking them when they are so clearly down.
But on the other hand, perhaps I am not.
And now, this! And Now: Things Get Uncomfortable on Local News Thanks to a Terrible Holiday.
Allegedly, it's National Hug a Newsperson Day.
My goodness.
I'm good, fam.
I'm good.
I am also good.
I don't want anything.
Today is National Hug a Newsperson Day.
Or don't.
I guess.
Apparently.
Jackie, is there anyone you really want to give a hug to? First of all, I hate hugs.
You know that.
I hate hugs.
I was like, I'm going to give you, and then I remembered.
Yeah.
So much! I hate hugs.
So much, like, even with my family.
- Am I ever going to hug you? - No, do not Today is National Hug a Newsperson Day.
Just don't come up and hug somebody you don't know.
- Just don't hug you? - I don't know you.
- Hug a Newsperson Day.
- You made that up.
- I did not make that up! - Did you find it on a bogus website? - What are you doing? - I'm warming up my hugging muscles.
Who are you hugging? Maybe Patrick will get a hug today from Krista, we'll see.
I don't think he'd want one.
Who knows? Justin got one last hour, but that was an interesting one.
Moving on.
Our main story tonight concerns computers.
There's one in my house, one in my pocket, and one on my wrist, and, fun fact, if they all broke at the same time, I'd die! More specifically, we're going to talk about the fact that we've all had unsettling moments when it became clear that our computer was monitoring our activities a little more closely than we might like.
After financial planner Rod Laurenz opened a new office, he used a credit card to buy baby wipes to clean the place.
He says after picking up just one canister, he was shocked to be bombarded with targeted online ads for other baby wipes and more children's products, something this single guy around town says he's definitely not interested in, at least not now.
Yeah, it's true.
Poor Rod got roped into the modern update of Hemingway's classic story, "For sale.
Baby shoes.
Click here.
" Of course Rod didn't want that shit.
He was a man about town! He was only interested in three things: getting laids, getting paids, and rocking the hell out of some wrap-around shades.
But we have all found ourselves being targeted by ads for something oddly specific and thought, "How on earth did they know to show me that?" And tonight, we're going to talk about who makes that possible: data brokers.
It's a multibillion-dollar industry, encompassing everyone from credit-reporting companies, to these weird people-finding websites that pop up whenever you Google the name of your friend's sketchy new boyfriend, to these names that you may never have heard of.
But what all these companies have in common is, they collect your personal information and resell or share it with others.
As one expert puts it, they're the "middlemen of surveillance capitalism.
" Which sounds like both a horrific profession and also, a B-plus Jake Gyllenhaal thriller.
He's not a spy, and he's not a civilian.
He's the middleman.
And ladies? In this one, he shows trunk.
I know it is not news that you get tracked online.
In fact, roughly six in 10 U.
S.
adults say that they don't think it is possible to go through daily life "without having data collected about them by companies or the government," making four out of 10 U.
S.
adults embarrassingly wrong.
But this isn't about the convenience and/or irritation of targeted ads.
Data brokers operate in a sprawling, unregulated ecosystem, which can get very creepy, very fast.
The major U.
S.
retailer OfficeMax new not only that Mike Seay's daughter was dead, but how she died.
It says, "Mike Seay, Daughter Killed in Car Crash or Current Business", and this is my home.
Why would they have that kind of information? Why would they need that? Right, and obviously that is completely appalling.
But I will say, it is not that surprising to me that OfficeMax was behind that, as they're clearly not entirely on top of their shit.
If you Google "OfficeMax" right now, the "people also ask" questions include, and this is true, "Is OfficeMax the same as Office Depot?" "Is OfficeMax and Staples the same?" and "Does OfficeMax exist?" The truth is, when it comes to data brokers, they know significantly more about you than you might like, and do significantly more with it than you might think.
So tonight, let's talk about the whole industry.
And let's start with how your information is collected.
Basically, every time you interact with society, you are leaving little breadcrumbs that can be gathered together and sold.
And much of this happens online, thanks in large part to cookies.
Cookies were developed in the early days of the internet, and they're actually one of the things that make it slightly better, a distinction that they share with Henry Winkler's Twitter feed and literally nothing else.
What they essentially do is enable websites to remember you.
They are why Amazon remembers that you put a $106 complete box set of "The Mentalist" in your cart after eating an unexpectedly strong weed gummy, even if you don't.
And if that's all cookies did, it'd honestly be fine.
But the practice gradually evolved to include third-party cookies, basically, companies other than the site that you are on, planting a piece of code in your browser that allows them to track where else you are going on the internet.
Just watch as a tech writer explains what they found when they tried to learn just how many companies were tracking them.
So, I started the day on Google and did a search.
And nine trackers were downloaded onto my computer.
Trackers do what it sounds like they do.
They track you.
They can get my IP address or the device I'm using, or the screen size.
They were able to determine my location very precisely.
Next, I went to HuffPo, and I was swarmed.
The trackers kind of multiplied.
There were dozens and dozens.
And the trackers are just kind of, you know, on my heels as I go around the web.
And I don't know about you, but I don't want a whole crowd of strangers watching what I search for on the internet.
Not because it's gross.
It's private.
Private doesn't have to mean gross.
There's nothing gross about looking up, let's say, "Are there any showerheads with a 'contains pulp' option?" I wouldn't want it all the time, I wouldn't need it all the time.
That's why it's an option.
The option to have some pulp.
In the shower.
It's, can I finish? It's a normal shower most of the time, but occasionally I'll have the option to get pelted with something that's got some heft to it.
Just some weighted chunks of whatever.
Something to wake me up and keep me on my toes.
Sometimes I need it, don't claim that you don't.
We'd all love to pretend that the sun only rises in peacetime, but things being what they are, we find ourselves again at war.
So, yeah, start my day and rock me with some juicy bits.
That's what I want.
And I don't want anyone watching me when I search to see how close we are to that particular technology existing, because it is private.
But data brokers often take all the breadcrumbs that they have gathered about you, pair them with other data they obtain, and then share all of it with businesses who want to market to you.
And they will frame this as a win-win.
Here is how Epsilon, one of the biggest data-broker firms, positions itself.
This is a person.
So is this.
Here's another.
And another.
They all look and act different, but people are fundamentally the same.
They all want respect, protection, and an easier time getting the things they need from brands.
Right! The big three! It's all in Maslow's famous hierarchy of needs, people want their physiological needs met, their safety accounted for, and their search history handed over directly to the Aflac Duck.
Epsilon's ad even goes on to show how that service of theirs works, demonstrating how they can create a client ID for someone that contains everything they know about them, like the fact they're a vegan and that they make 45 to $50,000 a year, or that they are a 41-year-old male who is married with kids at home and is Googling "snow globe stuck in butt, what to do, question mark.
" Once companies like Epsilon collect enough information about you, they can sort you into groups.
Data broker firms sell access to lists with names like "couples with clout," "ambitious singles," "boomers and boomerangs," "potlucks and the great outdoors," "golf carts and gourmets," and "kids and cabernet.
" Those are all both real names of groups compiled by a data broker and, as of now, immediately greenlit shows on TLC.
And, look, you might not care if a company wants to toss your data in a group called "kids and cabernet" so marketers can more effectively sell you things that make you seem like a bad mom in a fun way, but there is also a dark side here.
Because some companies can, and do, draw up even more narrowly targeted lists, like people with certain ailments, or sexual preferences, and then sell those lists to anyone who wants to buy them.
And what they can buy is pretty troubling.
WRAL bought thousands of names and addresses of local people with serious illnesses.
This group living in the 27607 ZIP code have diabetes.
These people in 27608 have cancer.
These residents of 27609 have high blood pressure.
And all of these locals battle depression.
This list is moms-to-be.
So, we bought this data, and it tells us you're pregnant.
- Yes.
- And you are? Yeah, I am 18 weeks.
That's pretty creepy, isn't it? I honestly did not think there could be a worse thing to ask a woman you don't know than "are you pregnant?" But "you are pregnant, wanna know who I paid to find out?" has certainly entered the chat.
And if you're thinking, "But that's illegal under HIPAA, right?" No.
As one researcher pointed out, the medical information that you relay to your physician is highly protected, but if you go to a medical website and search for terms like "HIV" or "abortion," that information is not protected at all.
It's a system that seems ripe for abuse before you learn that some data brokers have offered lists such as, "Suffering Seniors", "Pay Day Loan Central Hispanic", or even "Help Needed, I Am 90 Days Behind on Bills".
And some in this industry will insist that they would never put people at risk by selling their data.
Remember Epsilon, the company that collects clouds of information about you? In 2014, their then-CEO even went on "60 Minutes" to reassure people that his business, in particular, operated in a completely above-board manner.
If there are abuses out there, we don't believe those happen within our company, and we would be the first to raise our hand.
Really? You would be the first to raise your hand, would you? That is interesting.
Especially because last year, Epsilon settled with the DOJ for $150 million for facilitating elder fraud schemes, after admitting that it sold more than 30 million consumers' data to clients who employees knew were carrying out scams.
And they were doing it for nearly a decade.
So, I guess that that guy should've been doing that entire interview with his fucking hand in the air.
At this point, you may be thinking, "Okay.
I think I get it.
I am sufficiently creeped out, there is nothing more that you need to tell me.
" Well, hold on.
What about the fact that apps on your phone can give away your exact location to third parties, sometimes without you even knowing it? This free flashlight app settled with the FTC for doing just that.
And they are not alone.
Take Life360, an app giving families the opportunity to keep track of one another.
You may have seen their ads featuring parents looking relieved because they can see where their kids are going and know when they have safely reached their destination.
Guess what? A new report from the website The Markup says that Life360 sells its location data to about a dozen different brokers, who then sell it to marketers.
It turns out they were selling location data to around 12 different brokers.
It's like those old commercials: "It's 10 o'clock, do you know where your children are? 'Cause if so, same!" And I have to tell you, Life360 insists that they are no longer doing that, and that anyway, they had de-identified their users' data before selling it.
That last claim is actually very common among both data brokers and the companies that they work with, and it is worth taking a look at.
'Cause while it sounds reassuring, the truth is, it can be incredibly easy to find out who is behind a number or a code.
One team of researchers even found that 99.
98 percent of Americans would be correctly re-identified in any data set using just 15 demographic attributes, among them age, gender, marital status.
And the ease of de-anonymizing data is something that we have actually known about for years.
In 2006, AOL turned over a bunch of these anonymized search records of their users to the public, and it only took a few short hours for a reporter to decode who user number 4417749 was.
Between searches for things like "numb fingers," "60s single men", and "dog that urinates on everything", the reporter uncovered a woman named Thelma Arnold.
She was age 62.
Okay, I am not saying that it is at all pleasant that that happened, but for the record, I am glad that it introduced me to Thelma Arnold because I love that woman.
She hasn't given up, despite her numb fingers, lackluster love life, and utterly broken dog.
None of that is stopping her from shooting her shot and looking for single men in her area.
We stan a middle-aged queen with stamina.
As we looked into this story, we constantly got reminders that none of us are really anonymous online.
At one point, a researcher clicked on this company's website, didn't do anything else, just went there on his browser, and later that day, got this email, saying that they knew he visited, and "We offer a pretty cool service called Website Visitor Identification which helps brands identify who's browsing their website.
In fact, it's how we knew how to send you this quick email!" Which is just objectively unsettling.
I don't want anyone tracking what my staff members are doing online, mainly because I don't want to know how many of them have looked up "What is John Oliver like?" And it is not like data brokers are super careful about who gets your sensitive information.
You have already seen a local news station ambush a pregnant woman.
And a few years ago, CBS bought some location data from brokers and it did not take much for them to find out whose it was, where they lived, and what they were doing.
No names or phone numbers were tied to the data, but it was easy to figure out who each phone belongs to based on where they spend their nights here in Greenwich.
One phone pinged in the morning inside a $7 million mansion.
The person then visited a country club before heading downtown and returning home.
That doesn't feel great, does it? Although I will say, that particular example is not that surprising to me.
If you told me an individual woke up in a $7 million mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut, and made me guess where they went next, I'd have gone with, "I don't know, a country club, downtown to hunt humans for sport, and then home again.
" And I'd have been pretty sure that I was right.
And the thing is, that kind of identifying information can cause huge problems.
Just last year, a priest was forced to resign after a Catholic newsletter said it used app data signals from Grindr to monitor his activity, and matching his phone to his residence, essentially outing him.
Which is a massive, harmful invasion of privacy, and definitely the worst scandal ever to hit the Catholic Church.
Also, just quick side note here.
Catholic Church, are you absolutely sure that Jesus was homophobic? Think about it, he had mutually respectful friendships with women, a distant relationship with his father, and when he found out he was going to be betrayed, he invited everyone to a confrontational dinner.
I'm just saying it might be worth re-examining your thesis there.
And look, you might still think, "I don't care about this.
My life is an open book, I have no secrets, so data brokers can just have at it.
" Even if that is true for you, though, consider there are others out there who might have very good reasons to not want to be found.
Donna is a domestic violence victim.
We're protecting her identity.
One of her addresses came up on a data broker site.
She says that's frightening.
If you have someone that's tried to kill you, for them to be able to just type in your name and any known address that you've ever stayed in can pop up, it's scary because now they know ways to start trying to find you.
Right, and that's not just theoretical, it has happened.
In New Hampshire, a stalker killed a former classmate after finding her with information that he bought from a data broker for $45.
And if you have a stalker, or you are a victim of domestic violence, it is understandable to want your information removed from these people-search sites.
But each has its own specific, and sometimes very complex process of requesting the removal of information.
And there is no federal law requiring that they honor an opt-out request.
And the lack of regulation here doesn't just benefit individuals who might mean you harm, it benefits the government, too.
Because it gives them a very attractive loophole to the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizures.
Because under that, the government typically needs a warrant to collect information about you without your consent.
But if it is not forcing someone to turn over your data, if it's simply buying it from a data broker, that is apparently fine, no warrant necessary.
And you can see how valuable that would be to them.
It happens all the time.
In fact, federal agencies from the FBI to ICE have purchased data, "without warrants, public disclosures, or robust oversight, to carry out everything from criminal investigations to deportations.
" And you might not know if your information has been supplied to the government by an app.
Even the company behind the app might not know.
Because it might sell your info to a broker, which then resells it to someone else, which supplies it to the government.
I'll give you an example: a couple years back, Vice found that the app Muslim Pro, which let Muslims know when to pray, had been selling user location data to a broker that supplied information to the U.
S.
government.
And while, because the chain is so opaque, it is hard to know what was sold, or what the government did with it, the app's users were understandably pretty alarmed.
Feeling disturbed, appalled, but not surprised.
Sara Mostafavi used Muslim Pro, that app has since reportedly severed ties with its data partners.
So intrusive! My conversation with God is not information the government needs.
Yeah, of course it's not information the government needs.
There's a reason the book wasn't called "Are You There God? It's Me Margaret and Homeland Security's On the Line as Well, Hope That's Cool.
" So, to recap here, we've got shady data brokers with virtually no oversight collecting your data and building profiles that can track who you are, where you are, and what you are most likely to do or buy.
You cannot edit this dossier, and others, from cops to reporters to your own abusers, can find and use this information.
It's not a great situation.
So, what do we do? Well, it is a bit tricky, especially given the fact that the entire economy of the internet right now is basically built on this practice.
All the free stuff that you take for granted online is only free because you are the product.
They make money by selling your data.
But experts say that there are actually some small steps that you can personally take.
You can use web browsers like these to help better protect you against third-party tracking.
And if you have an iPhone, you can go to the privacy menu, hit the tracking button, and turn off "allow apps to request to track.
" But this should not be your responsibility, your privacy should be the default setting here.
And there should be legal fixes to this.
Other countries have actually tried.
The EU passed a law to force sites to disclose cookies and allow you to opt-out.
But, I will say, companies now often cleverly present those options in the most annoying way possible, with "accept all cookies" an easy default, but if you want to reject them, forcing you to go through multiple confusing steps for no clear reason.
Which is very smart, to be honest.
No one is going to put in the work to reject cookies just to sneak a peek at an article titled "Five Times Andrew Garfield Just Was.
" You'd much rather just hit "accept" and enjoy your remaining time on Earth gazing at the most emotionally connected Spiderman to ever splooge the ooze.
Now, as for here in the U.
S.
, individual states have tried to limit data brokers, but advocates say that what is really needed is a comprehensive federal privacy law governing them.
This has been proposed for years now, but nothing has happened, for a couple of key reasons.
First, data broker spending on lobbying in 2020 rivaled that of Facebook and Google.
But also, politicians now famously build their campaigns on data obtained from brokers.
Both parties regularly boast about how much they use data.
And in fact, just listen to former RNC Chair Reince Preibus openly bragging about it.
Everything about almost every potential voter in Georgia is known.
And it's not even a joke, they know what beer they drink, what car they drive, how many kids they have, and all that data is used to target every single voter in Georgia.
It's true.
Politicians rely on data to be able to target our interests with pinpoint precision.
Although I do wonder why no presidential candidate has then yet targeted me personally with ads promising to fight for the shower of morning chunks I so richly deserve.
I Google it all the time, you would have my vote instantly.
It is frustrating that the people who could do something about data brokers are so actively incentivized not to.
But here is where we may be able to help.
Because, interestingly, the one time that Congress has acted quickly to safeguard people's privacy was back in the 1980s, when Robert Bork was nominated to the Supreme Court, and a reporter walked into a local video store and asked the manager whether he could have a peek at Bork's video rental history, and he got it.
And as soon as Congress realized there was nothing stopping anyone from retrieving their video rental records, too, they freaked the fuck out, and lo and behold, The Video Privacy Protection Act was passed with quite deliberate speed.
So, it does seem when Congress' own privacy is at risk, they somehow find a way to act.
And it also seems like they are not entirely aware just how easy it is for anyone, and I do mean anyone, to get their personal information.
Which brings me to me.
Because in researching this story, we realized there is any number of perfectly legal bits of fuckery that we could engage in.
We could, for example, use data brokers to go fishing for members of Congress, by creating a demographic group consisting of men aged 45 and up, in a five-mile radius of the U.
S.
Capitol, who had previously visited sites regarding, or searched for terms including, "divorce," "massage," "hair loss," and "midlife crisis.
" We could call that group "Congress and Cabernet," and then target that list with ads that might attract those men to click, like, "Marriage shouldn't be a prison," or "Can you vote twice?" We could also throw in, "Do you want to read Ted Cruz erotic fan fiction?" just to see what would happen.
And if anyone clicked, we would then be able to harvest even more data from them, which we could then theoretically take steps to de-anonymize.
Now, am I saying that we're actually going to do that? Collect all that raw information and store it in, let's say, a manila envelope somewhere? I'm sorry to disappoint you: we are not going to do that.
Why would we, when we've already done it? Because All that raw data is currently right in here.
And honestly, this whole exercise was fucking creepy.
We ran those three targeted ads this week in the Capitol Hill area, and to give you just a sense of how many clicks we got, it was very much not zero.
Do you want to see more? Because I do! Please, come with me.
'Cause Let's start with the very first hit that we got.
It came at 3:35 PM on Tuesday afternoon from around the Embassy Row area, when a man fitting our demographic description clicked on the Ted Cruz ad, meaning that we now have his IP address and device ID, and also know that he did it on an Android phone.
So, we could now take steps to identify him.
Just like we could with all these others who clicked on one of our ads in the Capitol Hill area this week, including at least three who may have been inside the Capitol Building itself.
One of whom clicked on the "Can you vote twice?" ad, one of whom clicked on the divorce one and another who clicked on the Ted Cruz erotic fanfiction, which was distressingly popular.
And if you're thinking, "How on earth is any of this legal?" I totally agree with you, it shouldn't be.
And if you happen to be a legislator who is feeling a little nervous right now about whether your information is in this envelope, and you are terrified about what I might do with it, you might want to channel that worry into making sure that I can't do anything.
Anyway, sleep well! That's our show.
Thank you so much for watching.
We'll see you next week.
Good night!
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