Everybody Lies

This book by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz covers the lies we tell ourselves, our employers, our families and our countries; and about how the data crumb-trail we leave behind us all over the Internet through our search history and our social media likes and posts reveal who we really are.

The case studies in this book cover everything from bedroom habits to tax avoidance. It is fascinating stuff indeed.

The author is clearly an expert in his subject – big data – and a gifted, humorous writer. At the same time, he seems (blissfully? willfully?) unaware of how the kind of data he collects and interprets could be used against the people who generated it. The big data covered in this book is the kind of data Cathy O’Neil warned us about in Weapons of Math Destruction, the kind of data used in mass-social control and behavior modification programmes such as China’s compulsory, punitive social credit score system (Sesame Credit.)

Read the right way, this book is a warning, a reminder that nothing we do online is really secret.

Th data doesn’t matter half as much as what we do with it.

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