I'm back from a week at my mom's house and now I'm getting ads for her toothpaste brand, the brand I've been putting in my mouth for a week. We never talked about this brand or googled it or anything like that.

As a privacy tech worker, let me explain why this is happening. 🧵
First of all, your social media apps are not listening to you. This is a conspiracy theory. It's been debunked over and over again.

But frankly they don't need to because everything else you give them unthinkingly is way cheaper and way more powerful.
Your apps collect a ton of data from your phone. Your unique device ID. Your location. Your demographics. Weknowdis.

Data aggregators pay to pull in data from EVERYWHERE. When I use my discount card at the grocery store? Every purchase? That's a dataset for sale.
They can match my Harris Teeter purchases to my Twitter account because I gave both those companies my email address and phone number and I agreed to all that data-sharing when I accepted those terms of service and the privacy policy.
Here's where it gets truly nuts, though.

If my phone is regularly in the same GPS location as another phone, they take note of that. They start reconstructing the web of people I'm in regular contact with.
The advertisers can cross-reference my interests and browsing history and purchase history to those around me. It starts showing ME different ads based on the people AROUND me.

Family. Friends. Coworkers.
It will serve me ads for things I DON'T WANT, but it knows someone I'm in regular contact with might want.

To subliminally get me to start a conversation about, I don't know, fucking toothpaste.

It never needed to listen to me for this. It's just comparing aggregated metadata.
The other thing is, this is just out there in the open. Tons of people report on this. It's just, nobody cares. We have decided our privacy just isn't worth it. It's a losing battle. We've already given away too much of ourselves.

"We spotted a senior official at the Department of Defense walking through the Women’s March ... His wife was also on the mall that day, something we discovered after tracking him to his home in Virginia." nytimes.com/interactive/20…
So. They know my mom's toothpaste. They know I was at my mom's. They know my Twitter. Now I get Twitter ads for mom's toothpaste.

Your data isn't just about you. It's about how it can be used against every person you know, and people you don't. To shape behavior unconsciously.
Apple's latest updates let you block apps' tracking and Facebook is MAD. They're BEGGING you to just press accept and go back to business as usual.

Block the fuck out of every app's ads. It's not just about you: your data reshapes the internet.

The internet is never going to be the wacky place it was when I had a Livejournal and people shared protean gifs in the form of YTMNDs. Big business has come to suck the joy (and your dollars) out of it.

At least make it hard for them. 🪡
Oh, this post is my Twitter high score. If you like D&D consider sticking around, my account is 85% tabletop RPG development and 15% leftist politics.
Plug #2: my brother @josephoforb landed a book deal for his Hollywood satire about a failed actor in a superspy franchise who is framed for murder. It is HILARIOUS. James Bond meets Avengers meets Knives Out. Preorder it. It comes out in July. amazon.com/Jove-Brand-Nea…

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More from @RobertGReeve

Jun 8
Two leading figures in the tabletop industry wanted tattoos from an artist who did work for Post Malone.

They berated him over a disagreement about the contract: “Be happy I am not punishing you for your lack of experience”
In another instance, Jamison Stone put a writer he hired for his $300,000 tabletop RPG Kickstarter on a blacklist, simply because she asked for clarification on a late invoice.
Pat was a writer for the Red Opera: Last Days of the Warlock, a 5e supplement that Jamison Stone produced through his company @ApotheosisStu.
Read 91 tweets
Apr 21
Today is D&D Direct, an event where @wizards_dnd tells us about upcoming books, video games like Baldur’s Gate 3, and even a movie.

I could wait to comment on their reveals, but let’s put some skin in the game.

5 predictions for the next 5 years of D&D. Thread. 🧵
PREDICTION #1: a 3D virtual tabletop

This one's obvious. According to job postings, Digital Dungeons & Dragons is “the future of Dungeons & Dragons’ digital play experience.”

These postings are full of signs we can read like a haruspex to catch visions of a possible future. A list of careers at Digital Dungeons & Dragons. All are ful
The lead gameplay designer is expected to have
· Experience on a AAA video game
· Experience with Unreal or Unity, two 3D engines
· Ability to program or edit scripts

Senior environment artist: Maya, ZBrush, Substance, and Unreal 4 or Unity. All 3D modeling tools.
Read 33 tweets
Apr 13
My $500 router broke today—a nightmare if you work from home.

Let me weave you a kafkaesque tale of tech support where @netgear tried to bill me $229 for the call.

It’s a tale of corporate greed, romance (I miss Andre already), and confusion.

Thread 🧵
I did a ton of research on this Netgear Nighthawk combination modem-router, knowing that @ohadelaide and I would both be streaming, sometimes concurrently.

I didn’t mind the high cost because it was fast, future-proofed, and no hassle.

Until today.
Five minutes into my workday, it stopped working. No WiFi, no ethernet, nothing on any of the dozen PCs, laptops, phones, and smart devices in this house.

So I power-cycled it (I unplugged it and plugged it back in).

Then I called my internet service provider.
Read 39 tweets
Apr 13
Watch John Oliver's segment on data brokers.

He went into a lot of detail I couldn't fit in my thread about ad tracking and my mom's toothpaste.

notice that he didn't say a word about phones listening to you talk. they DON'T NEED to.
I'm glad @iamjohnoliver talked about how "de-identifying" data is bullshit

In his segment John mentions a Catholic priest outed as gay through data bought from a data broker. I wrote about that case when it broke, if you want more details.
Read 4 tweets
Apr 12
The Marvel RPG teaser is hilarious

The abilities (might agility resilience vigilance ego logic) spell MARVEL

They call 3d6 "d616"; one's a "Marvel die." Roll a 1 on that die for a "fantastic" result.

Roll 6, 1, 6 to get an "ultimate fantastic" result

trivia: Marvel's "prime" reality is Earth-616, a designation first made in a comic by Watchmen author Alan Moore when he pulled in Captains Britain of alternate realities.

The artist, Alan Davis, said it refers to the mark of the beast, which in some accounts is 616 and not 666. A Wikipedia excerpt:  The n...
You only have a one-in-216 chance (0.46%) to roll exactly a 6 1 6 on 3d6.

But depending on how these "edges and troubles—which offer dice re-rolls" work, critical success might not be quite so rare.
Read 11 tweets
Apr 10
i commissioned a family portrait to commemorate our new streaming group's April Fools Day session of DUKK BÖRG, a doom metal take on DuckTales.

@nerdypapergames knocked this one out of the park. Character deets below 👇 A family portrait of Clan Del Quack, illustrated in the styl
The tall duck in the amaranth & arsenic tuxedo is @Nat1Fun as Mallard Del Quack, oath-sworn titan and housekeeper.

It is said that as the world of Dukk Borg met an apocalyptic end, Mallard shut himself inside the Sarcophagus of Plott-un-Common, which protects you from anything.
The mad scientist is Squash Del Quack, @RekItRaven's gizmo-speaker who invented a shrink ray and a propellered, seed-shooting bunsen burner.

She added a racecar engine to the clan's station wagon, giving it the horsepower to dodge lasers. It was all a duck blur.
Read 8 tweets

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