Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Facebook – yet another intrusion into your privacy

Yes they want to spy on your facial features in real-time so they can judge your mood and target you with relevant adverts. Just split up? Have some booze. Where will it end?

Facebook was granted  a patent in 2015 for emotion-detection software that will allow them to discreetly take control of your phone or computer camera while you are browsing so they can analyse your emotions. Then they can serve you uplifting adverts. Or manipulate you in other ways of course. They will be spying on you without your knowledge.

Facebook calls this spyware “passive imaging data” which means its taking footage when you’ve not got your device switched on. Then an algorithm (they love their algorithms at Facebook (and Amazon too for that matter) decides if you are happy sad or bored.

Facebook has continued in its quest to analyse your emotions and manipulate you by getting patents that analyses how hard and fast you type  and adjust the font size or change the emoji to reflect your mood. In fact the have another where they analyse your facial expression instead.

They’ve already been criticised for telling advertisers that it could identify when teenagers felt insecure” or “worthless” and in need of a confidence boost.

You have to ask about Facebook‘s ethics here. Never mind that fact that they are lax in closing down jihadis and hate sites, relying on the public rather than employing enough people to monitor the platform, this is yet another intrusion into your personal space.

Zuckerberg is a messianic about this believing that no-one should have any boundaries and we should all share information (except himself). It’s time Facebook and the other tech companies learnt to respect their users a bit more.

If the government did this there would be an uproar. Companies like Facebook try to operate globally so they can avoid legal restrictions (and tax).

Part of this I blame on the freebie culture and sense of entitlement among young people. If they had to pay for Facebook directly (rather than through the advertising revenue Facebook generates) they might think differently. However given they way they voted in the recent general election I doubt it. One day they will realise that nothing in life is free.

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Tesco not such good value any more

Tesco suffered a 16% drop in sales over the Xmas period. Why that should come as a surprise in a recession beats me but the stock market knocked £5 billion off the share value despite Tesco still making almost £4billion profit. Seems it just wasn’t enough.

The new CEO of Tesco, Phil Clarke, who pockets almost £7 million a year has promised to make changes.

He has blamed his predecessor, retail god Sir Terry Leahy, indirectly and says they became too focused on price. The Big Price Drop campaign suffered a bit of a backlash from customers who realised that Tesco was robbing Peter, in this case their double points, to pay for Paul.

If things hadn’t been so tough maybe we wouldn’t have noticed. But it’s now common practice to hike up prices before dropping them again, not always back to where they were, and claiming price cuts.

Analysts say Tesco needs to focus on its range, quality, and service. It slashed wage bills to boost profits and to finance foreign expansion. Did you know there are 200 Tesco stores in Hungary? But they are struggling in the USA.

It was obvious that there weren’t enough staff when you saw the queues and the closed checkouts at peak times. In my local Tesco Extra I’ve asked many times for them to open extra checkouts but the management say they don’t have enough staff (who seem to work office hours). They close the “fewer than 10 items” tills and try to get you to use the self-service machines with all the hassle that entails not to mention threatening more jobs.

And then there are some ethical issues. This weekend Carole Cadwalladr in the Observer mentioned the whales and dolphin snacks sold in Japan and reminded us of the pig farmers who ended up subsidising the stores. And do customers realise that it’s the suppliers who take the hit for the BOGOF offers not the supermarkets?

And what about the Chief Operating Office who conveniently sold some of his shares just before the share price dropped? Are we really to believe he didn’t have a clue about the profits warning? And if he didn’t shouldn’t he have seen the figures as part of his job? (NB Since moved from his job).

So Tesco are promising to improve customer service and employ more staff. The CEO has also poured cold water on further megastore expansion as non-food items are increasingly being bought on-line.

That will be good news for rivals and perhaps smaller shops as Tesco has  aggressively pursued store expansion in the past but can we learn to love Tesco again?