Feb 052015
With the recent rise of mobile assistants like Cortana, Siri and Google Now, we’re getting used to smartphones finally getting, well, smart.  I’m alerted by my Lumia 1020 when it’s time to quit annoying my dog and drive to work, and conversely, when it’s time to wake up and drive back home.

The Internet at large seems to believe I need more help than that.  Aside from ads trying to sell me what I’ve already purchased, I’m besieged by helpful spammers.  Every tweet, post or article I create is apparently just another vehicle for injecting my needs into some harvesting bot stream, and boy do they capitalize on it.  Reverse Tinnitus offers one email after I complained on Facebook.  Brain Power Without Limits promises another.

No idea what specifically triggered the second one.  It could just be my general content.

And maybe it’s my home photos that drew out the Hire Maids email.  But I’m really impressed by the bots that deduced the need for Nail Fungus Help and 24Hour FaceLift.  Yes, please!

Another bot recognized a desire to recover long-lost singing ability, and suggested a way to Sing Better Fast.  The answer, it seems, to uploading a song demo years ago.  Hopefully the bot’s response rate is no indication of the program’s.

They’re not all so clever, though.  The bot that urges me to get Thin for Your Valentine dramatically overestimates my dating prospects.  Still, I could stand to shed a few pounds.  Challenge accepted!

In all seriousness, there’s some scary stuff going on.  Most of us have left cookie crumbs all over the Internet, tidbits of information that we’d often like to scrub.  Google is even now in the cross-hairs of European regulators over the “right to be forgotten”.  Google would prefer to remember you… and all your shopping habits.

In China they do Europe one better.  There, Internet regulators will cheerfully scratch unflattering prose at the request of maligned corporate entities.  In the US, we just Yelp.

If you’re really enterprising, however, you forego the spam ventures entirely and extort people into buying your security product so you don’t take their service down.

Here’s a bit of relevant irony.  When searching for someone recently, I found a reference to them on the MyLife site.  MyLife’s message assured me I could buy their service to hide my tracks, noting that others had scraped my email address from somewhere.  Thus the timeliness and accuracy of, well, some of the spambots.  I’d say that maybe 20% are targeting me accurately.

I have to assume the target of my search hasn’t taken advantage of MyLife’s offer.  After all, I found them there.  Still, I’m tempted to try the service.

80% tempted, anyway.  Maybe I can use that SBA Loan: $50-$100k Guaranteed!

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