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Stop Amazon Spam

Link: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/2017/02/12/how-stop-seeing-your-amazon-searches-everywhere/97764058/

Commentary

The above Q&A(esque) article, written by Rob Pegoraro, creates some insight on how many users are unaware of the way that shopping sites and search engines use algorithms to display advertisements catered to their selective audience’s interests and desires – retargeting. In this particular piece, Pegoraro expands on the practice through expanding on the ways in which Amazon search results can extend far beyond just their commercial website. As technology becomes “smarter” and more developed overtime, it becomes difficult to track just how far it can be integrated into our lives – manifesting the ability to even coerce us into buying things they “think” we may need based on our previous web activity. These actions may become a constant annoyance if your recent searches are not representative of your actual interests. However, the author goes on to suggest some steps users can take to minimize the ad-pollution they face, specifically from Amazon:

  1. Browsing things in private or incognito web modes • your history will not be traced, but it may prove to be difficult to translate your frequently used websites and tabs into these modes if you are not already in them.
  2. Changing Amazon’s ad preferences • you may select “do not personalize ads from Amazon for this internet browser”, disallowing the engine from retargeting, but it may still display some Amazon ads. You may also manually edit your search history – however, these configurations will have to be done each time you open a new browser.

Connection

In regards to what we’ve discussed in class, there’s a lot that this article relates to in terms of web searches and the ad market. The goal of Amazon when they choose to use such technology in creating personalized experiences for their users is that they aim to increase their revenue by urging their customers to complete their orders, assuming that their search history is representative of things that they’re interested in buying. In class we learned that these algorithms are written specifically to generate revenue for both the advertiser and the medium in which they communicate this advertisement to their audience. In Amazon’s case, they spend money to display their ads because the value is high if their patrons were to actually purchase their products. These engines purposely make these practices embedded in their policies, making it easier for consumers to overlook them. It is more inconvenient and lesser-known for users to actually manually disable this function than it is to just accept the ad-pollution they will have to encounter. In relation to our class, this article extensively covers the ways that advertisers and sites use algorithms to implement greater payoffs.

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