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The 404 702: Where it's the end of the world as we know it (podcast)

On today's episode of The 404, we're examining the many ways that personal privacy is on its way out the door.

Now playing: Watch this: Ep. 702: Where it's the end of the world as we know it

Facebook just launched a new suite of features for Facebook Places that might be the beginning of the end for Web privacy as we know it. Luckily Natali Del Conte is around to calm us down and explain what's really going on with the new location-based deals.


Facebook Places is a service that lets users share their location directly on their mobile phones, but the latest product is called Deals, and it allows businesses to advertise to target customers by offering a special discount for those who "check in" at a location.

Once users activate it, Facebook will share the deal on their walls so others can cash in as well, and business can even offer "loyalty" discounts for members that return to a venue. The FourSquare and Loopt offices must be getting pretty hot right now.

If mobile tracking weren't enough, soon you won't even be able to watch a movie without being watched yourself! In an effort to combat Web piracy, some movie theaters are installing video cameras in front of the movie screens, designed to also monitor crowd reactions to trailers for market research on what audiences prefer to watch.

Even worse, the same company, Aralia Systems, is also planning to roll out infrared scanning systems at the ticket-purchasing stations that scan for recording devices and will sound an alarm to alert management if an illegal instrument is detected. It sounds similar to the TSA's "enhanced" security screenings we've been hearing about recently!

Internet "Captchas" have been around for a while--they're tests placed on some Web sites to determine whether the user is human, and they usually come in the form of a randomly generated word or phrase that you have to copy into a field to gain access.

They're only slightly irritating and require little participation to enter, but a software firm called NuCaptcha is hoping that video advertisement captchas will be the online ads of the future.

Instead of traditional squiggly words, the new system forces users to watch a video advertisement with a short message scrolling across it. After it's done, it'll ask you to identify and retype a part of the message to continue toward your destination, and although it sounds like an annoying process, companies like EA, Wrigley, and Disney have already signed up with hopes that people will actually pay attention to the ads instead of just clicking through. Soon we'll be reminiscing about a time when all you needed was a pop-up blocker to surf under the radar!

Thanks to Natali Del Conte for joining us on this rainy Thursday, and be sure to check us out tomorrow morning with Steve Guttenberg, aka The Audiophiliac!

Episode 702


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