back to article 27 Data-Slurping Facts BuzzFeed Doesn't Want You To Know!

When Buzzfeed first began to offer the world a constant free stream of inane listicles, cat pics and funny fail GIFs, it seemed too good to be true. Yet it turns out that the world's biggest content aggregator isn't just shiny and happy – it's curious too. In fact, according to a digital marketer, Big Buzzfeed is watching us …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Blergh

    What's the problem?

    They provide a quiz which asks lots of personal questions and then you're surprised they hang onto your answers and link it your usage? I personally can't think of anything more obvious.

    Imagine the scenario

    Marketing bloke: How do we find out who our core demographic is?

    Consultant: How about we ask them?

    Marketing bloke: Great idea lets do that then! Oh and see that cookie we drop on everyone's machines can we link it to that in case we want to analyse the data deeper?

    Consultant: Sure that's easy.

    1. king of foo

      Re: What's the problem?

      People do not answer these quizes to provide marketeers with accurate data, they do so to hopefully get to the funny bits at the end of the questions. I bet some people go back through the quizzes 2 or 3 times providing different answers.

      The problem is not that sites like this are "harvesting" this data, its that there are people stupid enough to pay for it thinking it is in any way meaningful.

      That's my concern... stupid people misinterpreting "data". Stupid people come in all shapes and sizes and appear to gravitate towards positions of powerful decision making responsibilities.

      Luckily I, although stupid enough to be president of the us of a, am powerless.

      1. Tiny Iota
        Mushroom

        Re: What's the problem?

        People are stupid...

        http://xkcd.com/1386/

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What's the problem?

          > People are stupid...

          I knew someone was going to get it in here first. :-/

          Never mind, I'll find another thread. :-)

        2. joeW Silver badge

          Re: What's the problem?

          King Of Foo never said "People are stupid". He said that there are stupid people, which is pretty much indisputable - but never generalised as to numbers or percentages. Given that he also went on to say that he considers himself stupid, I fail to see what relevance today's XKCD (the moral of which is, don't say "People are stupid" if what you really mean is "I am smart") comic has here.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What's the problem?

            > King Of Foo never said "People are stupid".

            No, but Blergh clearly implied it in his opening paragraph.

          2. Acme Fixer

            Re: What's the problem?

            I think a much, much better way of saying it is that Common sense isn't very common.

            I think the statistics gurus would laugh! After all, the statistics would just make accommodation if everyone 'got stupid'. We would then have the smartest stupid person, IQ 40, and the stupidest, 20 (barely able to put his pants on) and somewhere in the middle would be "normal". How does it feel being included into a group with a bunch of chimps?!

      2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Re: What's the problem?

        one mistake KofF. Ignorance & naivety <> stupidity.

        Its amazing there is tons of consumer law to protect people from buying the wrong thing, but nothing to protect the genuinely innocent from splurging their smallest indiscretion online.

      3. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: What's the problem?

        2 or 3 times providing different answers.

        Well, yes.

        Obviously.

        That's the whole point, isn't it. You try different answers until you get a result you like, then post it on Twitbook.

        1. Acme Fixer

          Re: What's the problem?

          Our Cobol programmers would do that. They'd try different versions until they got the answer the management liked. :-)

    2. Amorous Cowherder
      Boffin

      Re: What's the problem?

      That's what's bothered me about all these quizzes you see the links for being posted about all over the place, the questions seem silly enough but when you sit down and actually analyze some of them they are quite intrusive.

      Given enough mugs answering them, plus the background data they can fetch it's not difficult to see how valuable some of this info could be to someone with a cheque book big enough.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What's the problem?

        There's lots of things like this. The one I dislike is the 'telephone survey' that is 'anonymous', but they've called you (so know your telephone number), and start with the question "What brand is your television". From this one question, they attempt to identify what income demographic you're in (you know, Sony or Panasonic=high earner, Samsung or LG=cost and quality conscious, Technika or Bush=real cheapskate) , and then change the survey questions accordingly.

        You can pretty much guess that if you complete the 'survey', you will get bombarded with cold calls trying to sell you appropriate insurance for your demographic. I was amused one time because I was misheard, and when I said my main telly was a "Digihome", they filled in DGM, and I didn't bother to correct them. Imagine my surprise when a few days later I got an offer for an extended warranty for my DGM television! They could not even check that it was a real brand!

        I screw all of these surveys up, because although I am considered a high earner, I don't generally buy high value brands. But if I engage with the survey, I generally bail at the point that I feel they're too intrusive, which is normally not very far in.

      2. Acme Fixer

        Re: What's the problem?

        What really bugs me is this. I bought an item on Amazon. Now most web pages come up with an ad trying to sell me the same item! How useless can they get? I already have what I wanted! Seems like the advertisers are making money off the retailers by selling them worthless data! The customer ultimately ends up paying for it.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: What's the problem?

          While I don't see the ads on screen, the emails from Amazon offering to sell me something I've already bought (from them) are a tad bewildering. It doesn't strike me as a logical part of the business model, but hey, what do I know?

          1. Dave Bell

            Re: What's the problem?

            I am inclining to the view that Amazon are a little crazy. After all, they're trying not to sell me books.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So that's where they come from?

    I'm referring to all those "$number $noun $relative_clause $connector $another_relative_clause" so-called "articles", which I really hope are computer generated, for no human should have to stoop that low in the non-creativity scales.

    I guess I'll try adding that to my AdBlock filter see if my browsing experience improves.

  3. stu 4

    50% are stupid

    assuming stupid is defined as being lower than average intelligent.

    unless extremely thick or extremely intelligent people are over represented in the world (and I was always taught it was a bell curve), then pretty much exactly 50% of 'people' are stupid

    Or just keep it simple, and simply define the thickest 50% of people in the world as stupid.

    I'd go for about 90% of the world being stupid personally though.. certainly that's my experience.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 50% are stupid

      > I'd go for about 90% of the world being stupid personally though.. certainly that's my experience.

      Have you considered changing your social circle?

      1. Acme Fixer

        Re: 50% are stupid

        Yeah I had that problem with a bunch of supposedly technically savvy guys at work (IT dept). I'd ask them a tech question and they'd look at on another, like what planet did he come from, duh.

        I changed social circles; I no longer work there. ;-)

    2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: 50% are stupid

      " 50% are stupid assuming stupid is defined as being lower than average intelligent."

      Do you think it's the stupid who cannot differentiate between average and median? Or is that simply too clever by half?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Best Minds of our Generation....

    Always trying to get you to click on an ad or offer up juicy profiling info! Keep going lads, it only makes me shirk away further and focus more on living in the real world, not your make-believe world!

  5. Tony Green

    Always useful:

    $ grep analytics /etc/hosts

    0.0.0.0 www.google-analytics.com

    0.0.0.0 ssl.google-analytics.com

    0.0.0.0 ssl-google-analytics.l.google.com

    Good Grief! I just looked at BuzzFeed for the first time out of curiosity. It's pretty clear that their target demographic is thick people.

    1. Amorous Cowherder

      Not really, there are so many opportunities for people to connect to the internet now that these places are designed to attract bored people. Most of us would simply read a book or find something useful to do but there are a lot of people with a lot of free time to spare!

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge
        Holmes

        Those bored people

        Wondering how many are doing this during work hours.

    2. adnim Silver badge

      I don't know why u were down voted

      Have an up vote for two reasons.

      1) Its is a good move having most of Googles services in ones hosts file.

      I don't just stop at analytics ;-)

      2) To counteract the down votes.

      Anyone one with a care for their privacy should have up voted you.

      I have never visited Buzzfeed, never will.

      The Registers target demographic is intelligent IT types.

      So perhaps Buzzfeed gets a few people out of its demographic too?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I don't know why u were down voted

        > Its is a good move having most of Googles services in ones hosts file.

        As the ancients said:

        « Thou shalt not misuse Thy hosts file. »

        That's what firewalls, routes, transparent proxies, or iptables are for. Or just tweak AdBlock to taste¹.

        > The Registers target demographic is intelligent IT types.

        HAR!!! HAR!!! HAR!!! Good one!

        ¹ Not to go all X378 on you but *real* IT types filter unwanted Googleness by carefully timed and accurate manipulation of the Ethernet plug at your router or similar device. With some practice you can do this even with HTTP pipelining enabled. Real pros transcode gzip into xz compression on the fly using this technique.

        1. P. Lee

          Re: I don't know why u were down voted

          As the ancients said:

          « Thou shalt not misuse Thy hosts file. »

          But the apprentice replied, sir, I have but one server and cannot afford for it to be a single-purpose host and my only way to mystical Grate In Ternet. For transparent proxies needeth redundancy or She Who Is Indoors may bring Wrath upon my head and remove it and use parts of my alimentary canal to maintain the height of her leg warmers.

          Therefore, I choose the way of simplicity, not per-application configuration, neither the way of absolute effectiveness, preferring to trade-off a little security for the maintenance of the present place of my skull.

          Forsooth, tis not the end of the world if Twitface knoweth whether I have or have not a TV and I have educated my immediate familial group in the ways of not telling people stuff they don't need to know. Even the mighty Facebook waneth. And that is very good.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I don't know why u were down voted

        I also block or analytics and similar using ad block, no script, ghostery, bettery privacy, TACO.

    3. eldakka Silver badge

      or use a plugin like Ghostery which blocks known tracker sites and has a regularly updated blacklist so I don't have to maintain a hosts file across many different systems (Android phones, Android and windows tablets, windows laptops etc).

  6. Caaaptaaaain kick arse

    People actually tell the truth when asked this sh1te?

    lawks!

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    anonymized & agregate results

    "We are only interested in data in the aggregate form"

    Sure, you can say so. Maybe you even are.

    Unfortunately, you work hand in hand with The Google, which is very much interested in data in every form, aggregate or not. Whatever data you get, Google most likely gets as well, and you cannot vouch for what happens after.

    And, concerning anonymized strings, I seem to recall a very large customer data file that had those as well get nicked and be put online, where someone obviously more intelligent than average demonstrated how to reverse-engineer said anonymization with the application of deep analysis of the data. In other words, you might have anonymized your data line per line, but as a whole there's a good chance that recoupments may be made and your anonymization is moot.

    Have you thought of that, Mr Buzzfeed ?

    Somehow, I doubt it.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Re: anonymized & agregate results

      A great example being the NYC data that was released - Drivers for > 173 million trips identified from 'anonymised' NYC Cab data

      1. P. Lee

        Re: anonymized & agregate results

        Could be worse. Check out the latest trend in credit card "tokenisation" from Protegrity. No vault for value-tokens used, each token is completely reversible.

        "It's fast." I'll bet it is. But that isn't tokenisation, that's obfuscation.

  8. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    When Buzzfeed first began to offer the world a constant free stream of inane listicles, cat pics and funny fail GIFs, it seemed too good to be true.

    1) catalog.neet.tv (the catalog of 4chan.org)

    2) Choose appropriate SFW board

    3) ???

    4) Constant stream of ... err .... QUALITY Internet content

    Why Buzzfeed, why?

  9. GreggS

    Stupid is..,

    as stupid does

  10. PhilKlein

    And what are these 27 data-slurping facts Buzzfeed doesn't want you to know?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah yes

    The old "anonymous ID string" trick.

    We really should start to recognise this as being about as trustworthy as the three card trick.

  12. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

    Let's see...

    If I get fewer inane quiz invitations after I post this on Facebook.

    I love my friends and relatives, even the ones who post BuzzFeed quizzes.

  13. 4d3fect

    NoScript. If you MUST engage with Buzzfeed for some reason.

  14. Fihart

    not untypical

    If you complain about T Mobile they later send you an invitation to contribute to improving their service. Thinking this might actually be helpful, I started completing the questionnaire. After a number of questions I realised it was just a market research tool and sent them a snotty reply.

    From their pricing, one might guess that the telcos think we are idiots and this rather confirmed it.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019