Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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A recent trend on social networks and email providers is to allow harvesting of profile pictures and real names, mostly by automated processes with little to no human interaction. Your information is collected in context with other information, such as your purchase or product review history, and shown to people (typically your friends and contacts, also collected) who are viewing the products you purchased. This is an attempt to automate peer-to-peer marketing.
To try to put a stop to his own information being used, Cueball sets his last name to "If-you-see-this-name-in-an-ad-give-the-product-a-one-star-review-Smith", a name which includes a phrase that would negatively affect any marketer's attempts to advertise an online product. This name would pass though most harvesting software as-is, and may very well end up being used in such ads, unless some very clever software is able to detect sentences as part of names or similar. In fact much spam is stopped by identifying emails through Honeypot accounts (as one of many methods).
Hence engineering part of your profile could be a winning strategy to signal to your friends that your information is harvested without your express knowledge.
- [Cueball is sitting at a desk, using a desktop computer. He is filling in a form on a webpage.]
- First Name: John
- Last Name: If-you-see-this-name-in-an-ad-give-the-product-a-one-star-review-Smith
- How to deal with companies harvesting your profile for marketing
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