protest against roe v wade overturning in los angeles ca

An Ugly Consequence When Abortion and Big Data Collide

Every decision carries a consequence. Economists call it an opportunity cost. Politicians often simply call it an opportunity. Parents sometimes call it grounds for punishment.

Whatever it’s called by whomever it’s called, the fact is that every single decision we make sets us down a new path, a new timeline, a new reality wholly separate from the one we would have experienced if we’d made a different decision.

When it comes to the Supreme Court’s recent decision on abortion that overturned Roe v. Wade, the consequences obviously are still being discovered, and there are some that should cause concern and lead you to make some decisions of your own.

As the spouse of a true-crime junkie, I have heard countless stories of killers whose true intentions were uncovered based on internet searches for how to get away with murder or the best ways to dispose of a body. Casey Anthony, in my opinion, got away with murdering her child because it wasn’t discovered until after the trial that she’d searched for “fool-proof suffocation,” thanks to a buffoon of a forensic investigator who looked only at her Internet Explorer (RIP) history and not her Mozilla Firefox history.

Knowing that let’s talk about the now-crime of abortion.

Some facts:

  1. Anything you search for and/or post anywhere can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  2. You can post something to just your “friends” and still have it used against you in a court of law.
  3. You can delete a post and still have it be used against you in a court of law.
  4. You can delete an account — or all your accounts — and still have it be used against you in a court of law.
  5. You can never go on the internet again and still have your time as an internet-enabled superstar be used against you in a court of law.
  6. Facebook, Google, Bing, Mozilla, Amazon, Apple and all the much less well-known data trafficking companies that provide them their product — you and your information — couldn’t care less about you as a person and gladly have provided prosecutors/the government whatever they asking for when it comes to humans’ use of their technology. You are a commodity, and if the government comes calling, they will sell you out.

We all can acknowledge that, Supreme Court decision or no Supreme Court decision, abortions are going to continue in the United States. Even if all 50 state governments outlaw it, history tells us abortions will continue here, the same as they did before Roe v. Wade, the same way drugs are still bought and sold everyday despite our oh-so-effective War against them, the same way murder still occurs in states in which the government will kill you if you do so.

That means women are going to need covert abortion providers. Word of mouth will help, but the internet is still going to be the go-to vehicle to find the best possible option.

Say you find yourself in a situation with a pregnancy you’d rather not see through to delivery. You Google (or Bing) “safe abortion providers near me.”

So when that doctor’s office is raided or if you’re followed by some right-wing zealot and turned over to the gestapo, err, police, you can and will be prosecuted, and your search history can and will be used against you in a court of law. Google can be hit with a subpoena for your search history if you’ve deleted it off your computer, and they will comply.

But it gets worse.

Here’s a real-world scenario: Say your pregnancy is going fine. You planned for this child and want this child more than anything in the world. You post about your pregnancy on Facebook. You’re searching for baby names on Google. You’re buying diapers and onesies on Amazon. Your photos of your little poochy belly are on your iPhone.

And then, at your 20-week ultrasound, you find out the child’s heart is no longer beating. The doctors find out about the underlying condition that caused this and tells you that your body will eventually go through the process of labor, but if you wait and that happens at home, you have a 90% chance of dying.

So you seek out what medically and legally would be called an abortion and, unless something changes, you’ve just committed a crime.

Enter the same right-wing zealot.

You’ve left evidence all over the place — Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple, to name a few. All have shown no qualms about turning over user data to authorities who ask for it.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decisions, some of the biggest tech companies issued altruistic proclamations stating their support of women. Meta (Facebook’s newly created alter ego when things got a little too hot for it) and Google said they will cover the cost of out-of-state travel for their employees who have to seek bluer places to have an abortion.

Yet none of these companies has yet to speak up about how they’re going to handle your data. If you think their public statements of support for their employees are an indication of what they would do for you, you’re kidding yourself. You are not a person. You’re a product. You’ve been sold to so many businesses over the past decade and have absolutely no idea exactly who owns you.

Some of those buyers, you might be cool with. I don’t mind the fact that I get targeted ads for witty T-shirts because I love witty T-shirts and, much to my wife’s dismay, am always looking for new ones.

But others you might find a bit more objectionable. Was I happy when I found out the data from the app we used to be able to locate my teen child was sold to whomever wanted to buy it — including his specific locations at specific times, thus giving anyone who wanted to do ill to a child information to help determine his patterns and habits? Absolutely not.

Similarly, you might not be happy to know that your health insurer can (and does) track individual visitor’s website sessions and records their trips to its site to watch how they scroll and what they click on. How do I know this happens? I worked for a company that did it under the guise of website improvements. That was bad enough before it became potential evidence to search for things like “pregnancy care coverage.” Had that company been hit was a subpoena, would it fight it? Be able to successfully fight it? Hardly.

When you start to look at yourself how these data companies look at you — as a product, not a person — then you can see how completely illogical it is to believe they wouldn’t provide whatever they have about you to whatever authority asks for it. You’re evidence, not a human being.

I imagine the Supreme Court justices weren’t thinking about this when those in the majority wrote their opinion.

Which circles us back to where we started: Every decision carries consequences. I don’t care whether it’s “Should I chew this piece of gum right now or not?” If you decide “yes,” life is different going forward in some way from if you’d said “no.” Some of these consequences are so small as to be insignificant.

This one isn’t insignificant.

I’ve already written about why you should delete all your social media accounts right now, and this certainly hasn’t changed that opinion. I fully acknowledge I haven’t taken my own advice. I have my reasons. Everyone has their reasons. In the end, those reasons don’t change the central point: What’s going on with Big Data is bad.

Very bad.

If you’re a woman of child-bearing age, if you are related to women who are or will be child-bearing age, if you’re remotely connected — digitally or IRL — to anyone anywhere who might now or someday be of child-bearing age, you have good reason to step back and think about the consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision and how it relates to your digital footprint.

Big Brother is watching and keeping records.

More From ‘That Marketing Guy’

man in black suit leaning on white table

Why Your White-Collar Job Is In Jeopardy

Far be it from me — a guy who struggled to get through high school algebra — to suggest performance on standardized math tests is the barometer by which we should measure a nation’s educational system. Yet it is true that those who do well in math and science move into more white-collar jobs than […]

woman in black blazer holding smartphone beside woman in blue shirt

A Big Reason Your Workers Are Cranky About RTO

Here’s a workplace truth: Management often has no clue what the rank-and-file are thinking. This is often because employees suck at communicating directly, though their fear of doing so is often justified because of, shall we say, overzealous HR departments. Too often, however, it’s because managers are so used to being managers that they’re not […]

ethnic businessman shaking hand of applicant in office

The Biggest Hiring Mistake Managers Make

I received a phone call from the CEO of the company for which I served as marketing director at about 6:30 p.m. on Valentine’s Day. I was waiting in the parking lot of a nice restaurant for my wife to arrive. “John, our recent hires have been horrible. Why?” he asked. This was the same […]

aerial view of sports stadium during daytime

How Data Is Ruining Baseball (And How It Can Fix It, Too)

Smart businesses allow data to guide their marketing. The ability to do this is relatively new and likely not to last too much longer. A firehose stream of information is available on a company’s marketing campaign performance, its customers and its potential customers. That stream is so strong that there’s a movement afoot to create […]

black lamborghini vehicle steering wheel

Your Car is Selling You Out

On the dashboard of my car is a tiny square, just a little bit bigger than a postage stamp, that is worse than my sister ever was. If I drive too fast, it tattles. If I brake too hard, it tattles. If I accelerate too quickly — though I struggle to think how this would […]

mad formal executive man yelling at camera

Top 5 ‘Thank-Yous’ To The Bad Bosses Out There

Bad bosses shouldn’t be. Of course, I’ve never met anyone who self-identifies as a bad boss, yet we all know they’re out there, and yes, indeed, without a shadow of a doubt, they do suck. I’ve had more than my fair share of bad bosses over the course of my career, from the one who […]

Meet Johnny Boy’s Newest Client

There’s some humor to be found in the newest client on the Johnny Boy Marketing roster. Envision Benefits Group is an employee benefits, payroll and HR consulting company based in Buffalo, NY. Started just before the pandemic, it has not only survived by is thriving under owner and president Kristin Devereaux. Now to the humor: […]

two clear drinking glasses on table

A Secret Look Inside a Nuthin’ Story

One of my clients is a former newspaper colleague who now runs his own marketing firm and who has more work than he knows what to do with. Truth be told, whereas once I was a mentor to him when he was a young journalist, he’s now a mentor to me as I seek to […]

wood laptop writing business

The Most Important Work Lesson I’ve Learned

I’m not quite sure when I went from being the working world’s wide-eyed newbie to the grizzled veteran I see in the rearview mirror when I start the car for my evening commute home, yet here we are. I’ll be 48 years old in a few weeks, and I’ve been doing this marketing/communications thing since […]

apartment comfortable contemporary couch

WFH 4EVER? Not So Fast

It’s good to be the king.” Mel Brooks, History of the World: Part 1 I am currently sitting in an office that no one else wanted to fill. Two weeks ago, I started a new job with a company that had a zero-WFH (Work From Home) policy as one of the conditions of hiring. That, […]

The Rise of Horny Marketing

RadioShack is taking a controversial approach to its social media marketing. It’s capturing attention. But will the new approach grow sales? “If you find a squirter, marry her.” RadioShack’s Twitter RadioShack getting horny with its marketing is kind of like walking in on your grandparents having sex, and yet here we are, standing in the […]

Gamifying War: Where Are They Now?

Nearly 20 years after the U.S. turned Iraqi’s Most Wanted into playing cards, many of the captured have been released or died while in custody, but several remain at large. A U.S.-led coalition stormed into Iraq on March 20, 2003, ostensibly to seek and destroy the weapons of mass destruction our intelligence showed most definitely, […]

marketing office working business

Four Steps to Market Your Way Through a Recession (Plus a Bonus Tip!)

THE FOUR STEPSNo Axes 🪓Strengthen 💪Attack 🥷🏿Don’t Stop ⏳ BONUS: 🥶🧊❄️ The go-to inevitabilities in American society tend to be death and taxes — and with good reason. After all, death is coming for all of us at some point, and income taxes were supposed to be a temporary fix to help fund the Union […]

Top 5 Cringeworthy Marketing Mistakes

The Top 55. Solving Racism with Kendall 🏴4. Coke is a Feeling 🥤3. Fish > Death 🐟2. Arab Spring Ignorance 👳1. White Power PSP 🎮 As most people do, I made my first on-the-job mistake in my very first job. I was a blueprint copier for an architect who ate a pile of onions on […]

It’s a (Dysfunctional) Family Matter

Top 3 questions to ask yourself before going into business with relatives. My wife, Carla, is an amazing woman. She is exceedingly brilliant, the owner of a whole lot more A’s in school growing up than her future husband had. We’ve known each other for nearly three decades now, the past 25 as spouses. And […]

The Inside Story of Johnny Boy Marketing

Big things happen in odd places and at the strangest times. I met my future wife in the basement of a dingy college residence hall. The biggest boost to my career came when I had to cancel an interview with someone who could have been President of the United States. And I realized I could […]

Why So Much Marketing Data Analysis is Wrong

Any idiot can gather data. In fact, idiots are gathering data all the time. Smart people are, too. So are ants and mosquitos. Every time I drive a car, I’m constantly gathering data. My brain is doing what human brains do to judge distance, speed and alignment and how each might be influenced by things […]

The One Thing That Makes a Coach ‘Good’

What makes a good coach? Interesting question, but it’s the wrong one. Oh, that question has all the right words. They’re just in the wrong order. If you want to talk about what makes a good coach, we can list a bunch of coach-worthy attributes — things such as charisma, assertiveness, fairness, consistency. But again, […]

Top 3 Super-Secret Event Planning Tips

I have absolutely zero formal training when it comes to planning events. Before this became part of my job duties, I hadn’t planned so much as a birthday party for my child. Of course, I have zero formal training for a lot of the things I do in my job as a marketer and communicator. […]

It’s Not the Technology; It’s Us

It’s easy to say Facebook — sorry, Meta — is evil. They do such a good job of proving the point for us. They routinely violate their own privacy policies, they know what they do is bad for people and bad for society, and they lie when subpoenaed to testify before Congress because they know […]

When the Popular Vote Doesn’t Matter in Marketing

⬇️ What’s Below ⬇️Marketing: Science or Art? 🔬🎨The nature of feelings 🤗😭😡How to measure success in marketing 📊 Here’s one thing that doesn’t impress me much as a marketing guy: The popular vote. This might seem crazy, considering the goal of marketing is, at its core, to inspire the most people to buy your product […]

The BM Files – Goodwill/St. Louis Aquarium

Welcome to The Bad Marketing Files, the place where we look at marketing efforts ranging from the slightly off-message to the truly horrendous. The SettingA Goodwill/St. Louis Aquarium billboard on Interstate 70 The ProblemThe billboard sends messages neither entity wants associated with its brand. Today’s BM Rating💩 out of a possible💩💩💩💩💩(Translation: It’s not good, but […]

Sharing My Story Via Podcast

When it comes to podcasts, I need a 12-step program. I counted this morning, and I regularly or semi-regularly keep up with 16 of them. There are dozen and dozens of more that had a limited run that I plowed through at some point over the last seven or eight years. My addiction is a […]

Let Your Storytellers Explore Their Multiple Personalities

One of the best parts of being a professional storyteller is that, if you find the right environments, you can explore the many different facets of your personality. And it’s a storyteller’s obligation to explore them, as well as to find the parts that are hidden in the dark corners or are guarded by the […]

The Dark Side of Marketing: Big Brother Really Is Watching

What if I told you… … that when you visited a certain website, every single thing you do is being monitored? I’m not just talking about what you click on or what you buy. Most of us have at least an inkling that companies are doing that. I’m talking about actual recordings being made of […]

The Boy Scouts are wrong: Preparation is overrated

Back in college at good old Drake University (JO 92… T-Ders will understand), I had some pretty fantastic journalism professors. There was, of course, the legendary Bob-Woodward-Not-That-Bob-Woodward, who, though he worked in Washington, D.C., during the Watergate era, did not, in fact, do any of the reporting that brought down a president. More important to […]

My Most Important Interview

I have interviewed hundreds of people during my career, everyone from professional athletes and presidential candidates to the woman promoting a charity bake sale. This past week, I interviewed my wife. Her dad — my amazing father-in-law — died early Sunday morning after a two-month fight with COVID and other complications. I sit here now, […]

Patrick Ewing in a Jock Strap

When I was a wee-little storyteller of 17 years, I had the opportunity to go to the New York Knicks training camp to interview their rookie point guard, Greg Anthony. At 6’0″, I was able to look eye-to-eye with the just-out-of-UNLV star while I talked with him in the weight room. Five feet away, a […]

Storytellers vs. Content Writers (and why your business wants the first one)

All storytellers can be content writers. Not all content writers can be storytellers. And if you’re running a business or a marketing department, you most definitely want storytellers. So what’s the difference? There are many, but the key one is the focus. Content writers are fine. The good ones will produce lots of copy that […]

%d bloggers like this: