No, it’s not a spelling mistake. It is a ‘g’ and not a ‘c.’ It is a Brazilian football club, not a form of Spanish dancing.

Had you ever heard of Flamengo? Perhaps there are footballing cognoscenti who would be familiar with the name, most people whom I know would not have heard of the club. I had not heard of Flamengo until this morning.

Most of the Third Year students have gone on a school trip to Belgium.  Just four students were left in the class, and one of the boys and I stood watching a soccer match from the classroom window. The under-18s were playing a team from another school in the county in a fiercely contested match.

‘Who do you support?’ I asked him.

‘In the Premier League – Liverpool, but at home in Brazil, Flamengo.’

Knowing nothing about South American football, I could not comment on the merits or otherwise of his preferred team.

At the end of the lesson, it was lunchtime and I took out my phone. Opening Facebook to check on family news, the first thing to appear was a suggested item. It was a picture of the Flamengo football team who had won the Brazilian cup last week, a team of which I had not heard until twenty minutes previously.

In the past, when I have suggested to people that mobile phones eavesdrop on conversations, I have drawn looks of incredulity, but this morning’s evidence seemed conclusive.

My suspicions had become very strong when the prominent Dublin surgeon John Crown came up in conversation some weeks ago. He had provided excellent care to my friend who wondered what age he might be.

Taking out my phone, I had typed ‘John’ into Google, when ‘Crown’ immediately came up on the screen as one of three suggestions from which I might choose. How many hundred or even thousand surnames might have been prompted by the forename ‘John’? Had there been even a dozen possibilities suggested, I might have thought it was a piece of random chance, but it seemed very unlikely that random chance could have provided the name as one of just three?

It is not just that the phone is eavesdropping, it is obviously also passing information on to third parties who are monetising the information they have gathered through being able to offer advertisers very targeted advertisments.

I think the time has come to start including random words in conversations to see which are noted and what responses they elicit.



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2 Responses to Flamengo?

  1. Paul Pope says:

    It happens a lot. There was a proposal to install “smart” advertising boards, your phone would let the board know your browsing history, and the board would display advertisements to suit. I think the idea was forgotten. It’s as well to turn off any webcam on a laptop for much the same reason.

    • Ian says:

      Creepy stuff. With all the stuff about consenting to cookies, it seems inconsistent that you wouldn’t have to give similar consent to eavesdropping

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