Privacy in the Age of Psychological Targeting

Privacy in the Age of Psychological Targeting

By
SC Matz, RE Appel, Michal W. Kosinski
Current Opinion in Psychology. February
2020, Vol. 31, Pages 116–121

Psychological targeting describes the practice of extracting people’s psychological profiles from their digital footprints (e.g. their Facebook Likes, Tweets or credit card records) in order to influence their attitudes, emotions or behaviors through psychologically informed interventions at scale. We discuss how the increasingly blurred lines between public and private information, and the continuation of the outdated practices of notice and consent, challenge traditional conceptualizations of privacy in the context of psychological targeting.

Drawing on the theory of contextual integrity, we argue that it is time to rethink privacy and move beyond the questions of who collects what data to how the data are being used. Finally, we suggest that regulations of psychological targeting should be accompanied by a mindset that fosters (1) privacy by design to make it easy for individuals to act in line with their privacy goals, as well as (2) disclosure by choice, to allow individuals to freely decide whether and when they might be willing to forsake their privacy for better service.