Will advertising on mobile phones make callers cranky?

One of my favourite Mac features is the junk filter in Mail.

It’s brilliant, automatically dumping spam emails into trash deciding that I don’t want free casino chips for some online betting firm or those simply amazing longer lasting wonder pills that will make your erection last a month.

Quite rightly, junk assumes that if I really wanted to discover such wonders, I might simply surf the internet or ask it not to filter out the nonsense.

Because I have instructed it to do so, it works on my behalf. My choice.

But what happens if we start getting spammed by adverts to our mobile phone? What can I do given the limitations of the mobiles at our disposal?

I ask after reading this article in Scotland on Sunday on how internet giants want to muscle in on our trusty bricks.

The piece suggest that shops and stores could soon issue adverts targeting our phones when we walk within a few yard of their outlets, and that they will learn our every habit.

It uses the example that if you’ve bought, say, a Starbucks at 11am one day, it will send a message suggesting that you may like another at the same time the next and oooh, did you know that there is a branch just across the road.

The system will track your every movement through mobile phone masts. This information will be tied to that they already have on your habits through credit card spend, or perhaps simply from your previous location.

Of course, not all of this is new. We know that the bigs firms have been looking at ways to harness the power of the phones for years.

But it does throw up all sorts of questions about privacy, Big Brother and so on.

Not to mention how we would deal with a constant barrage of texts if we were to meander down Oxford or Princes Street.

For now it seems mobile phone users would have to subscribe to such services, opting in for the messages in return for discounts on bills or special offers.

Yet do we really think that phone providers won’t jump at the chance to insist it becomes part of the user’s standard network contract, further eroding the right of choice.

And perhaps worse than that, chipping away at our very ability to think for ourselves.

Categories: Blogs, Media philosophy & trends

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