A recent expose by the investigative journalists at The Markup revealed how Facebook uses detailed information about what people do online – the websites they visit and the search terms they use – to allow pharmaceutical companies to target people regarding medical conditions in which they’ve shown an interest.
This marketing strategy builds on the fact that one of the first places people turn to when they learn or suspect that they or their loved ones might be sick is the internet.
The fact that platforms may know more about us than our doctors reflects an apparent paradox – even when public schemes like My Health Record face widespread public scepticism, online platforms are largely escaping scrutiny for amassing detailed portraits of all the health conditions with which we might be associated.
This information feeds a hugely important structural shift in the dominant model of advertising, towards advertising that’s becoming both increasingly pervasive and less accountable.
Proxy mechanisms in the mass media
The era of mass …