The faecal macerator and how to f**k with the Zuck
John Lowery offers up a way to move fast and break Facebook
Some 8 or 9 years ago, I engaged in a jocular, jousting email exchange with a mate. Part way through I suggested he might want to purchase a faecal macerator.
Please don’t ask why the subject came up but let me reassure you that neither my mate nor I have lavatorial experiences that actually justify the use of such a device.
Nevertheless, over the next couple of days I was frequently forced to hold a hand over my computer screen lest any of my children should see the ads being served up on the Guardian website.
I repeated the exercise last week and here’s the result:
In the era of blockchain, encrypted email accounts, adblockers, Incognito, etc. many people are travelling around the internet without experiencing that kind of embarrassment but, to a large extent, the FAANGs still have their fangs in our data.
Perhaps Tim Berners-Lee and the decentralised internet will save us, but for now I have another way to fuck with the Zuck.
You’ve probably worked it out but just in case… it goes like this.
Instead of hiding from Facebook et al, do the opposite.
Every morning when you switch on your machine spend the first five minutes searching for stuff you have no intention of buying.
Recently I’ve searched for:
Garden rotovators – I don’t have a garden.
A GoGirl female urination device – I’m a man.
Chelsea replica kits – I support Leeds.
A cat toothpaste & toothbrush kit – I despise cats.
Nudist beaches in Spain – I wouldn’t want anyone to be subjected to the sight of it.
Afro-hair combs – I’m practically bald.
Swedish padded bath grab rails – Despite the impression I might be giving, I can still climb in and out of my own bath.
Approved Jaguar spares – I don’t own a car, let alone a Jag.
UKIP membership – Are you watching, Dominic Cummings?
Nick Clegg – I don’t agree with Nick.
On almost every occasion I’ve been served up with, what are to me, wholly irrelevant ads.
Then I click on them.
Which gives the economics of Zuck’s model a tiny kicking and, at his server farm in Luleå, sparks begin spewing from a gigantic grey box as the algorithms desperately try to monetise my contradictory interests.
I’m hoping that some smart techie reading this will spot that there’s a bigger opportunity here. An opportunity to develop a simple piece of ‘anti-programmatic’ code that carries out these random searches on a scale that is the match of the industrial harvesting of our data by the Zuck. And, consequently, he will be sent searching with urgent fretfulness for a faecal macerator.