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Google, spying, and Det. Lennie Briscoe

March 23, 2012

Have you ever bought a gift online, only to have that gift wreck all your hard earned Google-Ads cred?

Let's say your a hypothetical 30-year-old Copy Editor at an imaginary paper I'm going to call the Rimes Tepublican; clearly this is a flight on fancy but stay with me.

So as the holidays approach this hypothetical and in no way me Copy Editor (who prefers the title Supreme Allied Layout Commander) is helping his parents buy some gifts online.

Now, this imaginary but unconventionally good looking Copy Editor regularly shops online but purchases the kind of items a single person would buy.

Ironically downloading Enya songs, superfluous downloadable content for video games and "Law and Order" DVDs.

And only the GOOD "Law and Order," from 1992-2004. Also known as the "Lenny Briscoe years."

With a new, and totally hypothetical, niece coming to Christmas some more child-like gifts were to be purchased.

After about an hour of checking Amazon with his completely imaginary parents the Copy Editor in question bought a few kids toys, clothes, play mats, etc and assumed that would be the end of it.

That is until the hypothetical Copy Editor logged into his Gmail and found a series of ads asking if he would like his diaper budget cut in half.

Well, I'm pretty sure its zero, so go ahead and cut it all you want.

We all got used to this sort of thing; the Big G likes to think that whatever you talk about is something you would spend money on so they target these ads specifically to whatever you happen to show a digital interest in.


Now our good friends at the "Do No Evil" company have filed for a patent on a technology that scans the background noise of your phone calls for keywords, then targets ads to you based on that noise.

Good. Great. Marvelous.

Now when I'm on my phone and in line at a store I can log into my Gmail and get ads specifically tailored to my love of "What do you mean you forgot to bring the coupons!" and "I don't have to pay for it if I?eat the whole thing before I leave!"

Think of all the terrible conversations you hear just walking down the street, or in a restaurant, or, heaven forbid, driving.

Today only! Online sale! Save 40 percent on "Drive! Just drive already! Have you never seen a four way intersection? Just go!"

I don't think I'll ever be able to use my phone at a bar again unless I want a free trial subscription to "I'm not drunk! Shots! Shots, shots, shots, shots! Wooooooo!"

Thanks, Google. You've once again proven that private industry can be a better Big Brother than the government any day.


Copy Editor Wes Burns is a Friday columnist. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don't necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Wes Burns at 641-753-6611 or



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