Conspiracy theorists who think the World Wide Web is out to get them will love Bynamite.com, a new website that shows users exactly what advertisers learn about them through search engines (and other evil entities).
Bynamite, started by Ginsu Yoon and Ian Wilkes, promises to find out how Internet advertisers see you and help you take back control of your personal information.
“The Internet is filled with advertisers that constantly collect information about you,” the site reads. “What they know about you can get creepy, especially when they use that knowledge to bug you about things you don't like.”
In an attempt to eliminate this pestilence, Bynamite’s software, a downloadable plug-in for Chrome or Firefox browsers, monitors the information that ad networks and e-commerce sites collect about you through your Internet searches. It then shows you what these networks derive from this information and lets you modify it. While these modifications won’t block advertisements entirely, they will make sure that the ones that do pop up are selling you things you may actually want. So, someone who was, say, researching the world’s best buffets simply so they could write an article about it could prevent themselves from being inundated by diet ads.
“There should be an economic opportunity on the consumer side,” Yoon said, explaining the motivation behind the website to The New York Times. “Nearly all the investment and technology is on the advertising side. Our view is that it’s not about privacy protection but about giving users control over this valuable resource — their information.”
Even those who aren’t bothered by strangely presumptuous pop-ups will be interested to know what the Internet thinks about them. My Bynamite profile, for example, shows that I have nine interests in six categories. While these are fairly generic (shopping, news, travel, business, recreation, and miscellaneous), some of my interests are … well, interesting.
For instance, I was concerned that the Internet had dubbed me a lush … until I remembered I had used my work computer to generate the profile. (I’m pretty sure my interest in beer, wine and spirits comes for the research I did for this article on the best booze values.) With that in mind, I’m not surprised that Bynamite pegged my attention to business news, North American travel and cooking recipes, though I have no idea what “influencer actions” actually are, let alone why the Internet thinks I’m into them.
Additionally, while I don’t have a particular fascination with nails or screw fasteners (another possible interest in the Bynamite world), it’s good to know that, should the need arise, I can protect myself from advertisements for them.
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