The Snow In The Summer or So-So

The Snow In The Summer or So-So

Mon 15 May 2006

A thought experiment...

In response to Matttt's comment last time, querying what's the problem. Six Apart states that no personally identifiable information is disclosed to third party advertisers. My contention is that the combination of information is sufficient to identify very small groups, possibly individuals, certainly groups small enough to make manual checking a possibility.

An experiment, for someone who has a Livejournal paid account, and ten minutes of time.

Six Apart has previously stated that it will disclose the following information:

- gender
- location: country, county, and city
- age
- up to ten popular interests within the top 100.

As of this afternoon, the 85th most popular interest was "Pink". I would be interested to learn the numbers returned from a directory search:

- All users cited with this interest - apparently, 99,909.
- Users with this interest who have been active in the past month - this will be the baseline number of people who can be expected to see a commercial.
- Users with this interest who are based in the UK.
- Users with this interest who are based in the UK, in the city of Manchester.
- Users with this interest, in Manchester, who have been active in the past month.
- Users with this interest, in Manchester, who have been active in the past month, and are aged 21.

Readers will, of course, wish to repeat this search for different cities and interests.

It will be interesting to see the numbers, and to determine if it's possible to narrow down the number of users to single figures from city and a single interest alone. My suspicion is that a determined advertiser, using the information they've gleaned from Six Apart, will be able to identify people individually, thus making a mockery of everything Six Apart has claimed.

posted 15 May 2006, 19.27 +0100

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