Is 'iPoop-ing' Helping Marketers Target Ads?

By Ana-Marija Dolaskie — Nov 16, 2016
The average cell phone holds an estimated 25,000 germs — in every square inch — making it one of the nastiest things you touch daily. And marketers, to sell you stuff, want to obtain a swab sample from it to analyze, then compare what's found to an archive of particles. But what about those who handle their phones on the toilet? Yuck.      

You can certainly say that we millennials have a distinct sense of entitlement. So much so that we feel the need to bring our smartphones to the bathroom while we go Number 2 — the pastime has gained so much traction that it's become known as iPooping. Basically not even the urgency of a bowel movement will stop us from refreshing our social media feeds. So while I can appreciate other reasons why our phones could be dirtier than most public toilet seats, door knobs, or dog dishes, I am 100 percent confident that iPooping has become the Number One culprit. 

On average, a cell phone is estimated to hold roughly 25,000 germs in every square inch, making it — hands down — one of the nastiest things you touch on a daily basis. Think about it: we transfer bacteria with our fingertips every time we reach for our smartphones. Do you touch your phone after eating? Bacteria. Do you send a text after exiting the NYC Subway? Ew. Do you then press your phone to your face? Ya filthy animal. Now take all of that and combine it with our inexcusable habit of Facebook-ing on the toilet seat — the very seat that's cleaner than your smartphone. Hello, influenza.

So, your phone is filthy. And actual research proves it. A recent study from the University of California, San Diego, — led by Amina Bouslimani — says our smartphones are so grimy, they will soon be used by businesses, investigators, and marketers in targeting ads that meet your filthy needs. No, that's not in reference to what you're browsing, but rather what you leave behind on the screen.

In the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), with a simple swab of the screen, researchers could tell if you had spicy foods (based on traces of food), what type of perfume or cologne is on you, or whether or not you use sunscreen (this could explain if you're outdoorsy or not).

Obviously the limitation of this is clear: Marketers would have to obtain a swab sample from your phone in order to analyze different matter on your smartphone, and then compare them with an archive of particles. But one has to wonder what they could offer you when they find E.coli, bacteria found in feces, on your smartphone screen.. Wipes? Poop-ourri? No clue.   

First of all, wash your hands. I don't know who's been teaching you hygiene manners, but whatever you're doing needs to stop. Second, clean your phone. This can easily be done with a microfiber cloth; stay away from wet wipes. And third: don't iPoop. The amount of bacteria that you'd be transferring on your phone and subsequently on you isn't worth keeping up with the latest tweets from your peers. And, it's one less avenue for slimy marketers to get the dirt on you. 

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