This morning in my Facebook feed, a friend posted a link to Google Fortunetelling. There was a graphic of a crystal ball. And my curiosity was piqued. What kind of algorithm has Google created that can tell the future? What kind of data have they been collecting on me that allows them to do that!?
Also, I'd just read an article in The New York Times about an SEO expert who'd spent more than $700 thousand on psychics.
The link brought me to this page:
And when I started typing, it auto-filled the questions that I could ask.
Then it brought me to this page about the plight of refugees. "Of course we can't predict your future!," the page reads. "But 60 million refugees ask themselves every day if they have a future at all."
Then there is a call-to-action and links to see images and videos of refugees.
Google Fortunetelling is a stealth awareness campaign that appeals to the reader's frivolous self-interest and then shames him or her for it. Uncomfortable? Yes. Effective? Maybe.
"This fake Google Fortunetelling site is not actually affiliated with Google, but it used the search giant's brand to get to more people. The site comes from a Netherlands-based company that wants to urge people to acknowledge the pressing refugee issue rather than dismissing it with apathy and minding their own business," according to an article on Tech Times. "The real Google, for its part, got involved in the matter as well and added banners to many of its sites, prompting users to donate to charity. Google promised to match donations until hitting a target of $11 million and kept its word."