1. Major Carriers Sell Data on Black Market
AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint are selling customer data to shady third parties, allowing them to track cell phone users’ locations. A reporter from Motherboard uncovered this by asking a bounty hunter to track his phone. Do only good guys (AKA bounty hunters) receive private location data of cell phone users? We wish. Major cell phone carriers sell data to companies called location aggregators who then sell it to other companies that do not have the infrastructure to keep data safe from criminals, stalkers, and other individuals. In one instance, a company called LocationSmart leaked data on its site. Selling a customer’s data without consent or a legitimized purpose, such as roadside assistance or fraud prevention, goes directly against the privacy policies of companies like AT&T who agreed yesterday to stop selling location data to third parties. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this. All four major cell phone carriers pledged to stop selling data after the Securus scandal in June, but it looks like nothing has changed. Apparently, a cell user’s location can be tracked as closely as half a mile from them for under $5. Erik Qualman was right: “privacy is dead” (from his bestselling book: What Happens in Vegas Stays on YouTube).
2. Amazon’s Strategy: Targeted Sampling
Amazon has started sending its customers free samples based on their purchasing behavior. The company has quietly tested this “Targeted Sampling” by surprising randomly selected customers with freebies, including a Twitter user who had 15 different types of coffee in her cart.
Users are automatically opted in but have the decision to opt out. This strategy could bring huge advantages to Amazon against both brick-and-mortar retailers, who don’t have this kind of customer data, and against competitors like Facebook and Google, who can’t offer physical products delivered to a user’s doorstep. Brands might pay big bucks to partner with Amazon so that consumers will repeatedly purchase sampled products such as toiletries, snacks, and makeup. Currently, Amazon receives $5B in revenue from display ads but targeted sampling could earn them even more. Will customers love or hate this strategy? On one hand, people love getting free stuff. On the other hand, having something preemptively show up at your house could seem like a serious breach of personal privacy. Where is this strategy headed? Amazon plans to hire a senior-level employee to head the “Targeted Sampling team” who can “effectively monetize the Ad format.” The company also hopes to automate the campaign so it can run on “self-service.” The future will arrive on our doorsteps!
3. Twitter Will Stream NBA Games Live
Twitter plans to partner with the NBA so users can watch games through a single-player feed using an isolated camera, or “iso-cam.” The social media platform already provides pre-game, post-game, and behind the scenes highlights, and now fans will get to watch the game live. During the first half of the game, Twitter users will vote on which player they want to watch @NBAonTNT. During the second half, users will get a unique, up-close look at the game. Why would the NBA take this shot? Many younger NBA fans have cut the cord with cable TV, so the league wants to provide a way for them to connect. The Twitter streaming service won’t include commentary, announcers, graphics, or even a full view or of the game, so it will only act as a complement to the game on TV. “Twitter conversation has always been a complement to live action on TV. This groundbreaking partnership makes that complementary experience even richer, bringing additional views fans want to see, and the conversation around the game altogether in one place,” said Laura Froelich, head of U.S. Content Partnerships at Twitter.