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Hiding From Big Data
By: Jessica Cherok
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Big data is everywhere, and it knows a lot more about you than you might think. Recently, one woman decided to hide her pregnancy from big data, and see if she could go an entire nine months without being found out.

It couldn’t have been an easy thing to do. There are bots and cookies, as well as databases, targeted advertising, and detection algorithms all aimed at analyzing your online browsing. Add to those your in-store purchasing history and participation in store-loyalty programs, and marketers can know as much about you as you do.

Janet Vertesi, the woman who attempted to hide her pregnancy from big data, tells her story in a recent Time article. She recalls that it wasn’t just her online behavior that put the secret at risk, but also the behavior of her friends on social media. Any congratulations received on Facebook or Twitter could have outed her to advertisers.

She used private browser services to shop anonymously online. She paid in cash. She hushed all her friends and family. It wasn’t always effective, some people still made mention on the social media site.

Vertesi says she felt like a criminal in her attempts to keep the pregnancy secret. From her Time article, “No one should have to act like a criminal just to have some privacy from marketers and tech giants.”

For a full account of her story, click here.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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