There is apparently a trend among posh restaurants to google customers with reservations:

The maitre d’ in question, Justin Roller, says he tries to ascertain things like whether a couple is coming to the restaurant for an anniversary, and if so, which anniversary that is. If it’s a birthday, for instance, he wants to wish them “Happy Birthday” when they arrive. He’ll scan for photos of the guests in chef’s whites or posed with wine glasses, which suggest they might be chefs or sommeliers themselves.

It goes deeper: if a particular guest appears to hail from Montana, Roller will try to pair up the table with a server who is from Montana. “Same goes for guests who own jazz clubs, who can be paired with a sommelier that happens to be into jazz,” writes Grub Street.

The natural response to this ranges from horror at the invasion of privacy to thinking it’s awfully cool. I actually fall into the latter camp.

When the government eavesdropping and invasions of privacy recently came to light, a lot of people suggested that we really have no standing to complain given how we freely we let private companies have and keep this information. My response is that the private companies want to use it in order to find out what I want and sell it to me, while the government has different things in mind.

Every now and again I will see arguments about how well Facebook and Google allegedly know me with the implication that I should be freaked out. Facebook, after all, knows if you’re in a relationship with someone or not perhaps before even you do.

I would be worried about it quite a bit more if the advertising that Facebook and Google pitch in my direction weren’t so rudimentary. I mean, when I look up laptops it’ll try to pitch me laptops. But sometimes it is famously, silly wrong. Several months ago Facebook was convinced that I was in the market for divorce attorneys.

Now, once they start becoming more accurate, like the restaurants who google, perhaps there will be more reason to be concerned. If it weren’t for the fact that once they’re that good, they will be more helpful than ever.


Category: Server Room

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2 Responses to Nefariously Learning About You

  1. Burt Likko says:

    But there’s nothing private to invade.

    I wonder what they do with people who use the Intertubes pseudonymously.

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