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The BNH Book Review: Buyer Aware

Published Thursday Mar 2, 2023

Author Terri Schlichenmeyer of The Bookworm Sez

The BNH Book Review: Buyer Aware

“Buyer Aware: Harnessing Our Consumer Power for a Safe, Fair, and Transparent Marketplace”
by Marta L. Tellado
2022/Public Affairs
$29/305 pages

It’s almost quite scary: online giants, “the Big Four”—Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google—know what you’re doing this weekend. They know about your health concerns and your vacation plans, too, and they’re not alone, says author and Consumer Reports CEO Marta L. Tellado. Consumer products, financial firms and internet trolls also wreak havoc. And you willingly let them.“At some point early in the internet revolution,” says Tellado, “we lost control over our digital lives.”

Focusing on Big Business, Tellado writes about some of the breaches of trust at the “Big Four.” She cites problems with Amazon devices that listened to a user’s conversation and sent it to a third party. A Facebook algorithm suggested that a bigamist’s wives become friends. 

There are a few things that we, as consumers, can do. “The first is to be skeptical.” Confirm before sharing on social media to avoid passing on misinformation. Keep an eye on your elders; elder fraud is big business now. Likewise, watch your credit report carefully. Know how to opt out of data-collecting as much as you can. And “pester lawmakers by phone, email or visits to stick up for consumers ... we can do it state by state if Congress dawdles.”

While this information is great to have together, it’s nothing new. In reading about it in one single, thorough book, readers could be forgiven for wondering if fighting data collection and internet misusage is like a flea battling an elephant. 

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