Too Much Free Time

by Mike Masnick

Gay Or TiVo?

from the profiling-gone-wrong dept

Joe Schmoe writes in with just the link for this story from the Wall Street Journal talking about how occasionally profiling goes (amusingly) wrong. I remember a few years back I ordered a GMAT book for a friend using my Amazon log-in, and despite the fact I've been done with business school for quite a few years, every time I went to Amazon, it would suggest yet another GMAT book. Amazon also thought I had a weird fascination with Elmore Leonard for some time. The story here talks about mischaracterizations on both Amazon and (more so) on TiVo, where the TiVo seems to think certain people like "gay" programming, or perhaps Korean programs. It seems that those who have been categorized often feel the need to fight back, and counteract the incorrect personalization by going to the other extreme. Someone who was categorized as gay by the TiVo started recording lots of war movies, so the TiVo then started to think he was a Nazi (I wonder if it recorded the Saturday Night Live episodes with gay Hitler?). They also mention that Jeff Bezos once was demonstrating the personalization features on Amazon to a crowd of about 500 people, and the top recommendation for him was the DVD for "Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity." Wonder what Jeff has been doing with his spare billions...

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2002 @ 12:17pm


    I can't wait until the PATRIOT act allows the homeland intelligence agency to use this information to seek out potential bad-doers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    dorpus, Nov 26th, 2002 @ 12:32pm

    Had that problem...

    I bought a science book called "Biological Exuberance" from Amazon that details homosexual behavior in 350 species of animals. I'm not gay, just bought it for intellectual entertainment, but Amazon did start recommending all these gay books to me. However, there was a link for "why am I being recommended this?" and let me turn off the "gay" feature.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    J.D., Nov 26th, 2002 @ 6:34pm


    This is comical... until your health insurance rates go up (or your let go) because of a perceived health risk based in part on this type of profiling.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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