Very good article on mostly evil uses of personalization: "GSN does not simply track customers’ preferences and customize its services accordingly, as many digital businesses do. In an effort to induce players to play longer and try more games, it uses the data it pulls from phones to watch for signs that they are tiring. Largely by measuring how frequently, how fervently, and how quickly you press on the screen, the company can predict with a high degree of accuracy just when you are likely to lose interest—giving it the chance to suggest other games long before that happens. The games are free, but GSN shows ads and sells virtual items that are useful to players, so the longer the company can persuade someone to play, the more money it can make."

By "evil", I mean, not focused on helping people do what they want, but, for fun and profit, tricking a customer to do something they wouldn't otherwise do. I don't mean to be too judgemental here though. From a purely business perspective, I think the difference is mostly about whether you are optimizing for short-term gain (get that revenue now!) or long-term gain (be useful, get people to like you and then come back to you).

I personally think companies should only do the latter, but that's probably absurdly idealistic. There's a long history of companies tricking people into buying things, like sugar water and tobacco, that they wouldn't otherwise buy.
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