Disney, Google and Facebook
the Minds of Millions Of Children and Adults
Accused of Illegally Tracking Children Via Apps...
How Corporations Use A.I. To Alter Consumer Behavior...
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The suit claims Disney is violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.
A San Francisco mom says her child was illegally tracked while using the Disney Princess Palace Pets app.
Amanda Rushing, on behalf of her child referred to as "L.L.," is suing The Walt Disney Company, Disney Electronic Content and others in a proposed class action filed Thursday in California federal court.
Rushing claims an advertising-specific software development kit is surreptitiously embedded in the code for the app, and that's how Disney is collecting personal information and tracking online behavior.
"App developers and their SDK-providing partners can track children’s behavior while they play online games with their mobile devices by obtaining critical pieces of data from the mobile devices, including 'persistent identifiers,' typically a unique number linked to a specific mobile device," writes attorney Michael Sobol in the complaint. "These persistent identifiers allow SDK providers to detect a child’s activity across multiple apps and platforms on the internet, and across different devices, effectively providing a full chronology of the child’s actions across devices and apps. This information is then sold to various third-parties who sell targeted online advertising."
Sobol argues this is exactly the kind of practice the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act was enacted to prevent. Under COPPA, app developers and any third-parties working with them can't legally collect personal information about children who are under the age of 13 without verifiable consent from their parents.
"Disney has failed to safeguard children’s personal information and ensure that third-parties’ collection of data from children is lawful," writes Sobol.
According to the suit, a Disney subsidiary, Playdom Inc., paid the largest civil penalty to date ($3 million) for violating COPPA in 2011.
Rushing says L.L. was tracked while using the princess pets app, but the suit claims dozens of other games also track their users, including Club Penguin Island, Star Wars: Puzzle Droids, Frozen Free Fall and Disney Emoji Blitz. (Read the full list on pages 9 and 10 of the complaint, which is posted below.)
Rushing is seeking class certification with a class defined as: "all persons residing in the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia who are younger than the age of 13, or were younger than the age of 13 when they played the Game Tracking Apps, and their parents and/or legal guardians, from whom Defendants collected, used, or disclosed personal information without verifiable parental consent."
She's also seeking certification of a sub-class of California residents who could also have claims for violation of the state's right to privacy.
Disney has not yet replied to a request for comment on the complaint.
From Starbucks ( SBUX) to IBM ( IBM) , the use of artificial intelligence by big companies to alter your behavior is becoming a major thing. The most recent example is coffee giant Starbucks, as TheStreet recently reported. If you always have a caramel macchiato on Mondays, but Tuesdays call for the straight stuff, a double espresso, then Starbucks is ready to know every nuance of your coffee habit. There will be no coffee secrets between you, if you're a Rewards member, and Starbucks.
This fall as Starbucks rolls out more of its new cloud-based Digital Flywheel program, backed by artificial intelligence (AI), the chain's regulars will find their every java wish ready to be fulfilled and, the food and drink items you haven't yet thought about presented to you as what you're most likely to want next.
So targeted is the technology behind this program that, if the weather is sunny, you'll get a different suggestion than if the day is rainy. Or expect suggestions to vary on the weekend or a holiday, as opposed to a regular workday. If it's your birthday, Starbucks will offer a personalized birthday selection. If you patronize a Starbucks other than you're regular haunt, Starbucks will know that too.
Like it or not, what Starbucks has developed represents a smart melding of technology into e-commerce tools that will pay off long term for the company and drive sales, Brian Solis, a principal analyst and futurist at Altimeter, told TheStreet in an interview.
"Starbucks is one of the best companies in the world that connects brand, user and consumer experience between digital mobile and the real world," said Solis. " They are still pushing forward, rolling out their Digital Flywheel strategy to be more dynamic to further integrate digital and real world."
/ Carl Court/Getty Images
Trying to leave just makes you want to come back even more, study says
Scientists might have found why you finally keep looking at your Facebook feed.
And it's all because – despite how it might feel – going on there makes you feel good, according to the new research.
Even briefly looking at something related to Facebook, like its logo or the news feed, can be enough to give people great pleasure. A desire to repeat that pleasure keeps people logging on they found, and triggers cravings when people aren't logged on.
Then, when people decide they want to leave Facebook, they miss out on that pleasure. They'll then start feeling guilty, go on Facebook to cheer themselves up again – and feel bad all over again.
Researchers said that behaviour was a "cycle of self-regulatory failure" that keeps people logging on,
And the guilt over failing to actually cut out social media is damaging to the psyche, according to Michigan State University's Allison Eden, who conducted the study.
People might be best looking to force themselves to remove Facebook from their life entirely, the researchers said. That might include removing the Facebook app from your phone's home screen, they suggested.
"Media, including social media, is one of the most commonly failed goals to regulate," Eden said. "People try to regulate themselves and they really have difficulty with it."
The researchers conducted two studies, looking at people who use Facebook a lot and people who use it less.
in the first study, people were asked to look either at something related to Facebook – like its logo – or something else entirely, and then at a Chinese symbol. They were then told to say whether the symbol was pleasant or unpleasant.
Heavy Facebook users who had looked at an image related to the site were far more likely to say that the Chinese symbol was pleasant.
"People are learning this reward feeling when they get to Facebook," she said. "What we show with this study is that even with something as simple as the Facebook logo, seeing the Facebook wall of a friend or seeing anything associated with Facebook, is enough to bring that positive association back."
In the second study, people were asked to measure their cravings for Facebook. They found that people often gave into the temptation to use Facebook and then fell into the cycle of failure that can damage their psyche.
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