Software engineers are indoctrinated to believe: "People only hate ads when they aren't relevant." This doctrine has led to over 20 years of mass data collection. It's a lie, and if more engineers dared to question it, we'd get a lot further on #privacy.

I certainly went through this indoctrination. I do think it's true that people prefer more relevant ads and find them less annoying or not annoying at all. The problem is the surveillance necessary to do it; I don't think most people understand privacy well enough to make an informed decision about what information to allow advertisers collect. I don't think they even understand what's being collected or with whom it's being shared.


Between intent-based and content-targeted ads and history-driven recommendations (not paid ads) where the history is voluntarily handed over and aggregated across merchants by the user, that should be plenty to both serve advertising needs and to help people find products and services they want.

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