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I was listening to On The Media, a weekly NPR show/podcast, and heard a retelling by Sam Thielman of the Guardian of what I always thought was an apocryphal tale regarding data mining by Target Corporation (starts at about 5:00):

A young woman's father kept getting flyers for diapers and baby food. He finally go so mad, he went to the local Target and said "please stop sending these to my 16-year-old daughter; she's not pregnant." It turned out that the company had in fact been logging her purchases of stuff like folic acid, and understood that through her purchase history that she was pregnant. They knew before her dad did.

Other articles:

Is this actually true? It seems strange that a 16-year-old would be as-easily tracked (rare, but not impossible to have a credit card, or some sort of "rewards" card).

closed as primarily opinion-based by Larian LeQuella Sep 11 '15 at 15:00

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2
    All, I am nukeing and closing this question until further notice. please take any conversations to chat, and if you want to have a discussion on the merits of this question, please post in Meta. I had hoped that this would have led to a discussion of confirmation bias, remembering hits, and forgetting the millions of 16 year olds that weren't pregnant that probably got these same adverts, but alas... – Larian LeQuella Sep 11 '15 at 15:02

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