When Databases Get It (Hillariously) Wrong

Web sites are tracking where you click!  Apps are transmitting details of your activities!  The government is spying on citizens!


Okay, I shouldn’t belittle any of these headlines, but … of course web sites track what you do, what do you think cookies are?  Mobile apps share private data – really, why do you think so many are free (how else do they make money) and why do you think location-based apps are so popular now? Government spying, now that is serious, but sadly not surprising.

What’s surprising, though, is that there are places where all the random data gets aggregated and paints a disturbingly complete – and sometimes off kilter – picture of you.

So, I finally got around to writing holiday cards.  “Writing” being a euphemism for looking up addresses and writing them onto an envelope, putting the card in the envelope (sorry, no personalized messages), then sealing and stamping.  As always, I was scrambling for a few addresses, digging through cards, my laptop, my phone, asking G …

I decided to try my luck with white pages.  Enter name and city.  Boom!  But what’s this, under Tony’s name, it lists Nancy(his wife) as someone associated with this address.

Out of curiosity, I type in G’s name.  It lists him as aged 35-39.  (Don’t you dare correct it, he warns me.)  But my name doesn’t come up.  Good, I like to remain stealth.

I tried my name – a whole host of options came up.  I guess that’s a benefit of having the most common last name in the world

That was fun.  Back to cards … Meanwhile, G was intrigued.  He whipped out his laptop and started searching on white pages and other address locators.

Here’s one that lists family and known associates.  Sure enough – my parents (whom I haven’t lived with in like, 20 years), my sister, G … and my dog?

Turns out at least one database thinks my dog is a person.  Listed with his first name and G’s last name.  No age.

If you get arrested, says G, the police will look to speak with all known associates.  They’ll be searching for him for a while, even though he’ll be right there, underfoot, hoping someone gives him a treat or leaves a sandwich where he can reach it …

I felt kinda badly for my older dog.  He was persona non grata. Or is that canis non grata?

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2 Responses to When Databases Get It (Hillariously) Wrong

  1. So which boy is data based – Bing or Rizzo?

    • audsanns says:

      Rizzo is “out” probably because of a People subscription a friend put in his name, but the other one is still flying under the radar …

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