TikTok found to have tracked Android users’ MAC addresses until late last year

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Until late last year social video app TikTok was using an extra layer of encryption to conceal a tactic for tracking Android users via the MAC address of their device which skirted Google’s policies and did not allow users to opt out, The Wall Street Journal reports. Users were also not informed of this form of tracking, per its report.

Its analysis found that this concealed tracking ended in November as US scrutiny of the company dialled up, after at least 15 months during which TikTok had been gathering the fixed identifier without users’ knowledge.

A MAC address is a unique and fixed identifier assigned to an Internet connected device — which means it can be repurposed for tracking the individual user for profiling and ad targeting purposes, including by being able to re-link a user who has cleared their advertising ID back to the same device and therefore to all the prior profiling they wanted to jettison.

TikTok appears to have exploited a known bug on Android to gather users’ MAC addresses which Google has still failed to plug, per the WSJ.

A spokeswoman for TikTok did not deny the substance of its report, nor engage with specific questions we sent — including regarding the purpose of this opt-out-less tracking. Instead she sent the below statement, attributed to a spokesperson, in which company reiterates what has become a go-to claim that it has never given US user data to the Chinese government:

Under the leadership of our Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Roland Cloutier, who has decades of experience in law enforcement and the financial services industry, we are committed to protecting the privacy and safety of the TikTok community. We constantly update our app to keep up with evolving security challenges, and the current version of TikTok does not collect MAC addresses. We have never given any TikTok user data to the Chinese government nor would we do so if asked.

“We always encourage our users to download the most current version of TikTok,” the statement added.

With all eyes on TikTok, as the latest target of the Trump administration’s war on Chinese tech firms, scrutiny of the social video app’s handling of user data has inevitably dialled up.

And while no popular social app platform has its hands clean when it comes to user tracking and profiling for ad targeting, TikTok being owned by China’s ByteDance means its flavor of surveillance capitalism has earned it unwelcome attention from the US president — who has threatened to ban the app unless it sells its US business to a US company within a matter of weeks.

Trump’s fixation on China tech, generally, is centered on the claim that the tech firms pose threats to national security in the West via access to Western networks and/or user data.

The US government is able to point to China’s Internet security law which requires firms to provide the Chinese Communist Party with access to user data — hence TikTok’s emphatic denial of passing data. But the existence of the law makes such claims difficult to stick.

TikTok’s problems with user data don’t stop there, either. Yesterday it emerged that France’s data protection watchdog has been investigating TikTok since May, following a user complaint.

The CNIL’s concerns about how the app handled a user request to delete a video have since broadened to encompass issues related to how transparently it communicates with users, as well as to transfers of user data outside the EU — which, in recent weeks, have become even more legally complex in the region.

Compliance with EU rules on data access rights for users and the processing of minors’ information are other areas of stated concern for the regulator.

Under EU law any fixed identifier (e.g. a MAC address) is treated as personal data — meaning it falls under the bloc’s GDPR data protection framework, which places strict conditions on how such data can be processed, including requiring companies to have a legal basis to collect it in the first place.

If TikTok was concealing its tracking of MAC addresses from users it’s difficult to imagine what legal basis it could claim — consent would certainly not be possible. The penalties for violating GDPR can be substantial (France’s CNIL slapped Google with a $57M fine last year under the same framework, for example).

The WSJ’s report notes that the FTC has said MAC addresses are considered personally identifiable information under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act — implying the app could also face a regulatory probe on that front, to add to its pile of US problems.

Presented with the WSJ’s findings, Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) told the newspaper that Google should remove TikTok’s app from its store. “If Google is telling users they won’t be tracked without their consent and knowingly allows apps like TikTok to break its rules by collecting persistent identifiers, potentially in violation of our children’s privacy laws, they’ve got some explaining to do,” he said.

We’ve reached out to Google for comment.

August 12th 2020 Android, Google, security

Show Me The Numbers: 20 B2B Marketing Insights From Audience Poll Data

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Group of people with hands on a large colorful data chart image.

Group of people with hands on a large colorful data chart image.

What can poll results tell B2B marketers about a year unlike any other, and how can this valuable audience data help us refine our marketing strategy as we push towards 2021?

For more than a year we’ve run weekly social media polls on our Twitter profile, and for several months now have simultaneously also placed a weekly user poll on our LinkedIn* page.

We wanted to share some of the fascinating insights you have shared with us in the form of results from our polls, in order to see the trends that have emerged during this unprecedented year.

Let’s look at trends in social media communications, how marketing is changing in 2020, and the rising effectiveness of B2B influencer marketing, all through the lens of poll-derived feedback.

Social Media Communication Expectations

Insight #1 — Social Response Times

How quickly do we expect a response from a brand when we ask a question publicly on social media?

The majority marketers we polled expect to hear back from a brand within 24 hours, with 61 percent of respondents on LinkedIn expecting a reply within a day, 24 percent within one hour, and 16 percent by the end of the workday.

Twitter respondents voiced similar sentiments, with 38 percent looking to get a reply from a brand within 24 hours, 33 percent by the end of the current workday, and 21 percent within an hour.

If you’re not answering social media inquiries within 24 hours you may come under fire, as not even one respondent to our poll said that they expect brands to take longer than a day to reply.

2020July28LIPoll

Insight #2 — Email Response Times

We also asked the same question for a different form of online communications, curious about expectations when sending an old-fashioned email to a brand.

50 percent of our Twitter poll respondents said that they expected an email reply within 24 hours, mostly echoing the expectations for public social media questions. 22 percent said they expected brands to reply by the end of the workday, 18 percent within a week — a notable difference from social media queries — and just 9 percent within an hour.

2020February18TwitterPoll

Insight #3 — Unfollowing

What drives people who have already taken the time and effort to follow a brand on social media to later unfollow them, and what messages can we learn from these mistakes?

When we asked this question in a poll, our LinkedIn respondents said the top reason they unfollow brands comes down to posting poor quality content, followed by irrelevant content and brands that post too much content. Just two percent of respondents said that they unfollow brands that don’t post enough content.

44 percent of our Twitter respondents said that irrelevant content was their top reason for unfollowing a brand, followed by poor quality content at 33 percent, and too much content at 22 percent.

2020July14LIPoll

Insight #4 — Stories Format

We also ran a poll asking how the ephemeral stories format would fare on LinkedIn if the platform were to make its test of the post type a permanent part of the service. 33 percent of respondents said that LinkedIn Stories would be a great addition to the platform, while 25 percent felt it would be a good match. 25 percent also said that it would be an unlikely match, and 16 percent noted that the stories format would be a poor match for LinkedIn.

2020May19TwitterPoll

Insight #5 — Experiential Content

We were also curious how B2B marketers are using experiential content in 2020. 58 percent of our Twitter poll respondents said that they expected to incorporate experiential content very frequently into their marketing efforts during 2020, followed by 41 percent who planned to do so somewhat frequently.

2020March3TwitterPoll

Experiential content is playing a greater role in B2B marketing efforts in 2020, which I looked at in “What B2B Marketers Need to Know About Experiential Content,” and our Nick Nelson examined recently in “How to Hit a Marketing Home Run with Experiential Content.”

Insight #6 — Chatbots & Artificial Intelligence

How B2B marketers communicate is constantly shifting as new technologies become available and gain wider adoption. We asked our Twitter followers who use chatbots or other forms of messaging featuring artificial intelligence (AI) to chime in on how the technology has performed for them.

49 percent of B2B marketers who responded said that chatbots and AI-assisted technology has performed better than expected, yet 42 percent noted that the technology has under-performed, while 14 percent found that it performed as they had expected.

2020May5TwitterPoll

Insight #7 — Virtual Meeting Length

We were curious what our audience of B2B marketers on Twitter felt the most effective length of time might be when it comes to virtual meetings.

58 percent of respondents said that 30 minutes was the optimal length of time for effective virtual meetings, while 17 percent felt that 15 minutes or less works best, with 17 percent also noting that 45 minutes is the most effective, followed by just 5 percent who said an hour was best.

2020March24TwitterPoll

Insight #8 — Reviews & Testimonials

Another part of marketing communications is user feedback, reviews, and testimonials, and we asked our Twitter followers to share how often they use positive reviews in their marketing efforts.

47 percent of respondents said that they use positive reviews in their marketing efforts occasionally, however 23 percent noted that they never do, followed by 17 percent who said that they always do, and 11 percent who do so frequently.

2020February25TwitterPoll

Insight #9 — Newsletter Preferences

Speaking of email, we also wondered when B2B marketers prefer to receive monthly newsletters. 45 percent of our respondents said they prefer the first of the month, followed by 27 percent who are fond of mid-month newsletters, 18 percent who prefer a time early in the month, and 9 percent who want to see newsletters arrive at the end of the month.

2020February11TwitterPoll

Insight #10 — The Emoji Divide

The use of emojis in social media messaging was an area of contention among our poll respondents. 35 percent said that emoji were somewhat effective, while the same number noted their use to rarely be effective. 17 percent said emoji were extremely effective, and some 11 percent noted that they never use them.

2020January28TwitterPoll

The Changing Face of 2020 Marketing

The global health crisis has changed the face of marketing events in 2020, as nearly all conferences have made the jump to virtual events, as I wrote about recently in “17+ Top Virtual Marketing Conferences for Summer 2020 & Beyond.”

Insight #11 — Virtual Event Attendance

Are B2B marketers planning to attend newly-virtual events, and if so how many?

We asked our LinkedIn and Twitter users how many virtual marketing events they planned to attend over the final five months of 2020.

Most respondents said that they will attend between one and five virtual marketing events, while the second most frequent choice was those who said they won’t be attending a single virtual event, followed by those who plan to attend between six and 10.

2020July21LIPoll

Virtual events and webinars are undoubtedly seeing an unexpected golden age this year, and we’ve explored how to best utilize them, in “How B2B Marketers Can Get the Most Out of Webinars in 2020.”

[bctt tweet=”“One great way to promote the webinar, and focus your content at the same time, is to poll your audience via social media. Ask for their thoughts on your topic. Ask what they most want to know about it.” @NiteWrites” username=”toprank”]

Insight #12 — Top Pain Points

We wanted to find out what the biggest pandemic pain points have been for B2B marketers, and among those answering our LinkedIn poll 64 percent said that a decrease in budget or business has been the top challenge, followed by the difficulty in engaging customers at 36 percent.

46 percent of Twitter respondents also revealed that falling budgets and business were their top pain points, followed by engaging customers at 38 percent and remote work issues for some 15 percent of marketers.

2020July7LIPoll

Insight #13 — Learning New Skills

63 percent of poll respondents said that they have used their time during the pandemic to learn new marketing skills online, while 18 percent said that they planned to do so.

2020May12TwitterPoll

Insight #14 — Digital Asset Management

54 percent of B2B marketers we polled on Twitter said that they either already use a digital asset management (DAM) solution in their marketing stack or plan to implement one, while 45 percent didn’t use a DAM.

2020April28TwitterPoll

If you aren’t familiar with how DAM can help B2B marketers, I looked into the issue in “Why B2B Marketers Should Give a DAM: Top Tips on Digital Asset Management.”

Insight #15 — Podcast Growth

With U.S. podcast listeners topping the 100 million mark for the first time in 2020, we wondered how the global health crisis has affected listening frequency among B2B marketers.

40 percent of our Twitter respondents said that they have been listening to more podcasts during the pandemic, with 22 percent noting that they’ve listened to fewer, 18 percent about the same amount, and another 18 percent who said they don’t listen to podcasts.

2020March31TwitterPoll

Insight #16 — Streaming Ad Use

With numerous studies showing that streaming music ads were booming in 2019, we wondered what B2B marketers planned for 2020, and 50 percent of our Twitter poll respondents said that they had no streaming ad plans for the year, while 25 percent said they planned to implement more streaming ads, 16 percent fewer of them, and 8 percent about the same.

2020January14TwitterPoll

Insight #17 — The Customer Journey

Content creation efforts are also shifting in 2020, and we asked B2B marketers to share which stage of the customer journey they are focusing on the most.

47 percent of respondents said that generating awareness was where they were placing the greatest focus, followed by brand advocacy at 35 percent, consideration and intent at 11 percent, and evaluation and purchase at 5 percent.

2020February4TwitterPoll

The Rising Effectiveness of Influencer Marketing

Insight #18 — Influencer Marketing Program Length

We asked our LinkedIn and Twitter followers to chime in on the ideal length of time a B2B influencer marketing program should run for maximum effectiveness, and the majority of our savvy followers chose always-on and ongoing programs — 73 percent of our LinkedIn respondents and 64 percent of our Twitter respondents.

Influencer marketing programs encompassing at least two campaigns was the second most popular choice, the choice of 21 percent of LinkedIn respondents and 18 percent of our Twitter respondents.

2020June16LIPoll

Insight #19 — Pandemic Focus Areas

We asked B2B marketers which area of marketing they were the most likely to increase focus on during the global health crisis, and topping the list was influencer marketing at 35 percent, followed by content marketing at 30 percent, search marketing at 20 percent, and email marketing, which garnered 12 percent of the poll responses.

2020April21TwitterPoll

Insight #20 — Volume of Influencer Marketing Work

We were also curious how the pandemic has affected the volume of work B2B marketers have done with influencers. The greatest number of our respondents — some 36 percent — said that their volume of work with influencers had increased, followed by 32 percent who said that they didn’t use influencers, 24 percent who found that the volume of work was about the same, while 8 percent noted that the volume decreased.

2020April14TwitterPoll

Listening To Your Audience & Taking Action

via GIPHY

Keeping your finger on the pulse of your audience — whether it’s from poll results, surveys, questionnaires or other forms of feedback — goes a long way when it comes to making your marketing efforts authentic, and will help ensure that your communication is a two-way street and not just a publish-and-forget effort.

We hope you’ve found this glimpse into some of our own poll results helpful as you navigate the sometimes murky marketing waters 2020 has given us. Let us know your thoughts by voting in our current weekly poll about Instagram’s new short-form video offering, Reels — you’ll find it on LinkedIn here and on Twitter here.

You can learn more about poll data and statistics, and how to get more from audience feedback in every form by taking a look are some of the related articles we’ve written on the subject, such as the five listed here:

* LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Show Me The Numbers: 20 B2B Marketing Insights From Audience Poll Data appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

August 12th 2020 Uncategorized

ML 20200812

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The post ML 20200812 appeared first on Marketing Land.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

August 12th 2020 Uncategorized

Baby Nut’s worrisome rapid aging, plus Burger King’s shouty face masks: Wednesday Wake-Up Call

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Welcome to Ad Age’s Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. If you’re reading this online or in a forwarded email, here’s the link to sign up for our Wake-Up Call newsletters.

 

August 12th 2020 Uncategorized

The Sunday circular

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The “freestanding insert” was a multi-billion dollar business. Printed in bulk, then handed over to newspapers that would insert it into their Sunday paper, it was filled with coupons. In fact, the coupons were the entire point.

And the coupons worked.

They worked for two reasons:

  1. It gave big companies a chance to treat different people differently. If a consumer cared about saving money more than time or hassle, they could clip the coupons, bring them to the store and pay a different price than people who couldn’t be bothered. In essence, there were two prices for these products, based on how much the consumer wanted to spend and how they chose to allocate their time.
  2. Clipping the coupons, which began as an economic choice, became an identity and a hobby. The people who got really into it actually found happiness and esteem in the game. And it was a game.

As commerce moves online. the activities are changing, the middlemen are as well, but the two pillars remain. Priceline was a pioneer in this, giving travel shoppers a way to sign up for hassle, inconvenience and insecurity (you didn’t know which airline until after you bought your ticket) as a way to signal to airlines that they cared a great deal about price.

Mark Fraunfelder brings us this 200-year-old quote:

“Money is the best bait to fish for man with.” — Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia (1732)

I’m not sure that’s true. I think our story about money ends up being even more important.

[PS I just subscribed to Mark’s brand new newsletter. He’s been writing for and with the net forever, and I’m excited about Magnet. It’s not free, which is another story about money worth exploring.]

August 12th 2020 Uncategorized

Digital mortgage company Habito completes £35M Series C

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Habito, the London startup that has spent the last few years moving the mortgage process online, including offering its own mortgages beyond acting as a broker, has completed £35 million in Series C funding.

The newly disclosed round — comprising an earlier Series C equity raise and a more recent Series C extension in the form of a convertible loan note, was led by new investors Augmentum Fintech, SBI Group and mojo.capital, with participation from various existing investors including Ribbit Capital, Atomico and Mosaic Ventures.

The convertible loan was also matched by the U.K. taxpayer-funded Future Fund, set up by the government to help mitigate the coronavirus crisis’ affect on the country’s venture-backed startup ecosystem. It brings the total raised by Habito to just over £63 million since launching in 2016.

In a call, Habito founder Daniel Hegarty that the new investment will be used by the company to continue digitising aspects of home financing and buying which still remain a pain-point for homebuyers and sellers.

The fintech/proptech started out by offering a digital mortgage brokerage, promising to help you secure a new mortgage and monitor the competitiveness of your existing mortgage. The idea was to make applying for or switching mortgages as frictionless as possible.

In July 2019, Habito announced that it would begin direct lending via its own range of mortgages. Starting with ‘buy to let’ mortgages, the move saw the company expand beyond brokerage after it received regulatory approval to become a mortgage lender. By doing so, the aim was to cut the timeframe from mortgage application to offer in half, enabled in part by Habito’s integration with the conveyancing process to add more transparency for the homebuyer, while the number of documents needed was also significantly reduced.

In January this year, Habito launched “Habito Plus,” something getting closer to an end-to-end homebuying service. It brings together a buyer’s mortgage application, conveyancing needs and surveys “under one roof” — which feels less vitamin pill and more actual painkiller for anyone who has ever experienced having to deal with and coordinate all of the various stakeholders and parties involved in buying or selling a property.

Most recently, Habito launched its broker portal, providing more than 3,000 external brokers access to its own buy-to-let mortgage products and “Instant Decision” technology capabilities. Hegarty tells me the company intends to develop a suite of “innovative” residential mortgage products for all types of homeowners, not just ‘buy to let’.

Notably, Habito recently become a “B Corp” certified company, meaning it has made a legal commitment to put “people and planet on the same level as profit”. Resembling somewhat of a movement, there are more than 3,000 accredited B Corp companies globally, including Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, and WeTransfer.

August 12th 2020 Uncategorized

PSA: Don’t Store Open Tins in the Fridge

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I saw an open tin of stuffed vine leaves in our office fridge one day and immediately freaked out. I’ve always been you shouldn’t leave food in an opened tin as it risks food poisoning, and I believed that. But then I realised I’d never bothered to question why this rule applied. Time to investigate.

A certain amount of searching later, and the answer is pretty clear. Storing food in the fridge in an opened tin is a bad idea, but it’s not because of botulism (at least, not directly). One major issue is that with more acidic foods such as fruit juices and tomatoes, tin and iron can leak into the food, which makes it taste unpleasant and can have health effects.

The CSIRO has a good explanation:

Once cans are opened some foods, especially fruit, fruit juices, and tomato products, should be placed in a clean plastic or glass container, covered and stored in the refrigerator. When these foods are stored in the opened metal can, tin and iron will dissolve from the can walls and the food may develop a metallic taste. Food containing high concentrations of tin can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, abdominal bloating, fever or headache.

These symptoms pass quickly and there seem to be no long term effects of high tin exposure. However, repackaging food once a can is opened is a good practice to adopt for all foods packaged in metal cans.

The broader problem (and the reason for that last piece of advice) is that once the tin is opened and exposed to the air, food can become dry, absorb other flavours or otherwise turn nasty. That won’t make it poisonous, but it can make it unpleasant.

If you have those plastic lids which reseal tins, that problem can be avoided, though I’ve never used them for anything other than cat food myself. Keep it simple: if you don’t use the whole tin, transfer the contents to a resealable container.


This story has been updated since its original publication.

The post PSA: Don’t Store Open Tins in the Fridge appeared first on Lifehacker Australia.

   

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August 12th 2020 Uncategorized

Give Me an Incognito Mode on Everything, Please

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Algorithms, or algos, now rule our digital lives. They affect what we see in our uncurated social media feeds and what content suggestions are made. It’s why I’m pleading for an incognito mode on everything now.

Let’s take Netflix, for example. I tend to be a bit hopeless and watch the same types of shows over and over again. Gritty crime or historical dramas, insightful docuseries — I enjoy watching them all and the algorithm knows it. Instead of presenting me with something light and trashy, like reality TV, it knows to show me something mysterious and moody.

I like it that way. It doesn’t waste my time and it’s usually pretty accurate in figuring out what I want to watch next.

Every now and then, however, I like to watch something completely left of field. A dumb action movie. A trashy comedy. Something so ridiculous and out of my usual viewing habits, it would throw my carefully curated algorithm into disarray.

The problem is Netflix doesn’t have a private viewing option so the choices I make are later reflected in my suggestions. Something friends love to raise eyebrows at when you’re having a night in.

Luckily, there are some simple ways to avoid ‘ruining’ your algo. You can make a guest account, which is where I watch things like Nailed It so that my main account isn’t suddenly filled with baking shows.

You can also remove browsing history by heading to Settings and looking for your watch history. I’m not entirely sure if this removes it from the all-seeing, all-knowing algorithm too, but it’s a question we’ve put to Netflix Australia.

You know what would be easier, though? An incognito mode. That way I could tell the algo to take a hike for two seconds so I can indulge into something completely off-kilter.

It’s not an entirely brave new concept. Spotify has had a private session feature for years. Even YouTube has introduced the feature on mobile apps so you can switch it on and go down the YouTube rabbit hole. Sadly, it’s not yet available on my PlayStation 4 app so when I watch things like GQ’s Couples Quiz with Saweetie and Quavo, the algorithm apparently believes it’s all I’ll ever want to watch now.

Of course, no one should let the invisible, omnipresent algo dictate what you watch but damn, it would be nice to have the choice to let it forget me for a second.

The post Give Me an Incognito Mode on Everything, Please appeared first on Lifehacker Australia.

   

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August 12th 2020 Uncategorized

Android Phones Will Now Provide Earthquake Detection

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WebProNews
Android Phones Will Now Provide Earthquake Detection

Google has just announced a major upgrade to Android: The Android Earthquake Alerts System.

Google’s new feature is made up of two different parts. For users in California, Android users will receive notifications from the ShakeAlert detection system. The goal is to give people as much notice as possible of an impending quake.

At the same time, however, Google realized that not all parts of the world have a system like ShakeAlert. Therefore, Google has worked to make every Android phone a mini seismometer.

“All smartphones come with tiny accelerometers that can sense signals that indicate an earthquake might be happening,” writers Marc Stogaitis, Principal Software Engineer, Android. “If the phone detects something that it thinks may be an earthquake, it sends a signal to our earthquake detection server, along with a coarse location of where the shaking occurred. The server then combines information from many phones to figure out if an earthquake is happening. We’re essentially racing the speed of light (which is roughly the speed at which signals from a phone travel) against the speed of an earthquake. And lucky for us, the speed of light is much faster!”

Google’s new feature is an innovative way to use modern cell phones and will likely help save lives.

Android Phones Will Now Provide Earthquake Detection
Matt Milano

August 12th 2020 Android, Google

When to Know If Your Online Shopping Habit Is a Problem

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As COVID-19 quarantines and lockdowns drive up psychological distress, many people have increased their screen time, including online shopping, to cope.

Like alcohol use — or overeating, watching TV or surfing the internet — online shopping doesn’t pose a problem when used as an occasional treat.

For some people, however, these behaviours can turn into habits that are hard to break.

Here’s how to know when online shopping becomes a problem and what to do if it does.

How to know if it’s a problem

A behaviour becomes an addiction when at least three criteria are met:

  • the behaviour is clearly excessive given its context
  • it causes significant distress or impairment for the person or important people in their lives
  • it persists despite not resulting in reward.

Shopping online for your weekly groceries would not usually be considered a behavioural addiction. Neither would making COVID-19 related online purchases of exercise equipment, office supplies, or masks.

However, online shopping might be considered addiction-like if you find yourself doing the following:

  • spending a great deal of time shopping
  • buying a lot more than you need
  • finding it hard to stop shopping even though you rarely seem to enjoy the stuff you buy.

Relationship issues and financial hardship are other key clues your online shopping has become a problem.

Some people may experience online shopping problems without even spending a lot of money; just spending excessive amounts of time browsing products may be enough to warrant reflection and possibly intervention.

A man looks at a laptop computer screen.
Relationship issues and financial hardship are key clues your online shopping has become a problem.

Shutterstock

What does the research say about online shopping and addiction?

For many people, shopping can be a social or leisurely activity. It can feel good, and desires to feel good (and not bad) can get wrapped up with the desire to buy and own material possessions.

In fact, research from my (Melissa Norberg) lab suggests compulsive shopping can be associated with a feeling of being unable to deal with distress.

Problematic shopping also may occur when people attempt to compensate for an unmet psychological need, such as a need to feel competent, in control, or connected to others.

People sometimes turn to comfort products when they feel unsupported by significant others. They may buy compulsively when they feel ambivalent or confused about their sense of self.

So it’s not surprising that during the pandemic, many people report turning to online shopping to cope with significant changes to their social, work and family lives.

Australia experienced a surge in online shopping in March and April and online spending now remains well above what it was a year ago.

What to do if you want to cut back

If online shopping or browsing is interfering with your life, there are several strategies you can try.

The first is to determine what triggers your online shopping. Are you trying to feel better about yourself or relieve negative emotions such as boredom, stress or anxiety? Are you experiencing poor sleep or unhealthy eating? (If so, upsetting events might be more difficult to manage).

Is the online shopping occurring mostly at a certain time of day or in certain circumstances (after a glass or two of wine, after scrolling social media or when you’re lying in bed at the end of a long day, for example?)

A young man looks at his phone in bed.
Try to determine what triggers your online shopping.

Shutterstock

Next, try to figure out if there are other, more effective ways you can respond to whatever is triggering your excessive shopping.

If you tend to react impulsively to situations, practise identifying your urge to respond and then sitting with that discomfort so that you can choose a less impulsive and more productive or fulfilling response. Being able to tolerate negative emotions and respond flexibly to stressful situations is associated with healthier outcomes.

Chatting on the phone (or by text) with a friend, doing a peaceful activity (taking a bath, reading a book), exercising, or practising a hobby can help you to feel supported, relaxed, and talented. These activities also can lessen anxiety and depression.

Once you determine what you can do instead of shopping, develop a daily schedule. Having a schedule will help you feel more in control of your life and reduce the time available to shop online.

Try to set goals and monitor your shopping behaviour.

You can also try to:

  • make shopping lists (and stick to them) when buying groceries and other essential items
  • set a timer to limit how long you browse
  • set constraints on how much you spend
  • if possible, use debit cards instead of credit cards so you can only spend money you have
  • steer clear of “buy now, pay later” services such as Afterpay
  • if you have multiple credit cards, consider closing them to limit your ability to spend money you don’t have.
A woman looks at her phone while holding a credit card.
Try to set goals and monitor your shopping behaviour.

Shutterstock

And don’t forget to reward yourself (with something other than shopping) when you meet your goals.

Research has found these strategies can help people reduce their compulsive shopping.

If you have trouble reducing your shopping behaviour on your own, seek help from a professional. If you visit your GP, they can refer you to a specialist and provide you with a mental health care plan, which entitles you to Medicare rebates for up to 10 individual and 10 group appointments with some mental health services in a year.


If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.The Conversation

Melissa Norberg, Associate Professor in Psychology, Macquarie University and Jonathan David, PhD Candidate, Macquarie University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The post When to Know If Your Online Shopping Habit Is a Problem appeared first on Lifehacker Australia.

   

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August 12th 2020 Uncategorized