Targeting platforms like Google and Facebook are usually seen as presenting tradeoffs between utility and privacy. This Article identifies and describes a different, non-privacy cost of targeting platforms: they make it easier for malicious actors to scam others. They do this by making it easier for scammers to reach the most promising victims, hide from law-enforcement authorities and others, and develop better scams. Technology offers potential solutions, since the same data and targeting tools that enable scams could help detect and prevent them, though neither platforms nor law-enforcement officials have both the incentives and expertise needed to develop and deploy those solutions. Moreover, these scams may illustrate a broader class of problems from targeting that go beyond utility versus privacy, suggesting that more aggressive interventions may be needed.
Houston Law Review
University of Houston Law Center
Roger Allan Ford, Data Scams, 57 Hous. L. Rev. 111 (2019).