Reply To: Soliciting Personal Information


No doubt there are safety issues, but it’s a bit more complicated than that.  I’m an Economist, but I won’t get too “wonky” :).  There’s this concept known as “consumer surplus”, which is essentially the difference between someone’s willingness to pay and the market price.  For example, if you see a dress for which you’d be willing to pay $50, but the price is $40 that’s 10 extra bucks for you, and consequently you have a consumer surplus of $10.  (Note that producer surplus, which is the difference between the price at which a producer would be willing to provide a good and the market price, also exists.)

It;s no secret that producers would like to “appropriate” consumer surplus for themselves, if possible, and the collecting of personal information by “tracking” may enable them to do so.

I also suspect that “tracking” enables a producer to charge a “special price” 🙂 to someone who is e.g. Black, or gay, or trans.

Unfortunately there is so much public information out there that makes it easier for a producer to accomplish this.  For example, a credit report has the category “other names used”.  If “Jane Jones” was previously “John Jones”, a bank/landlord/employer would know that there’s a good chance she’s trans.  Similarly, if “Jane Jones” was previously “Jane Smith” and “Jane Carpenter”  it’s a good bet that this is her second marriage.  Since men don’t change their names upon marriage, such a procedure is also quite sexist.

I’m very careful when on the internet.  I delete my history and cookies at the end of each internet session, and I don’t save any bookmarks.  My privacy settings are at the maximum possible.

I quite agree with you that a site like this might invite predators.  I’ve seen a few suspicious posts, but I can’t tell whether they should be classified as “suspicious” or “you can’t make this up”. 🙂

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