Google to Track and Profile Users’ Psychologies

The Guardian reports on a patent filing by Google revealing how the company could compile psychological profiles of millions of web users by covertly monitoring the way they play online games:

The company thinks it can glean information about an individual’s preferences and personality type by tracking their online behaviour, which could then be sold to advertisers. Details such as whether a person is more likely to be aggressive, hostile or dishonest could be obtained and stored for future use, it says.

…The patent says: “User dialogue (eg from role playing games, simulation games, etc) may be used to characterise the user (eg literate, profane, blunt or polite, quiet etc). Also, user play may be used to characterise the user (eg cautious, risk-taker, aggressive, non-confrontational, stealthy, honest, cooperative, uncooperative, etc).”

The information could be used to make adverts that appear inside the game more “relevant to the user”, Google says.

Always that pure and benevolent goal of making ads more “relevant to the user” – ignoring how incredibly troubling the collection, aggregation, and mining of user’s psychological and behavioral characteristics might be. Google already is often subpoenaed for user’s search histories – will a request for a user’s psychological state at a given moment be far behind?

[via Joris van Hoboken]

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