Sebastian Decker: The algorithm of digital platforms

28. July 2022 – Astrid Berndt

Have you ever talked to a friend about a certain topic and a short time later an ad on exactly this topic appears on your smartphone?

Almost all people often feel watched and bugged by Google, Meta or their Alexa at home.

Sebastian Decker is a trainer at the Google Future Workshop and spoke about exactly this at TEDx in Metzingen on July 21, 2022. “How do the big platforms Google, Meta, TikTok and co. collect data? Data to create precise user profiles from it?”

At the beginning, Sebastian made it vividly clear that we haven’t had a truly free Internet for years. Because we don’t determine what information we receive. That has long been determined by machines and their algorithms.

With his agency and consultancy EVOLVE Digital, Sebastian Decker normally uses the user profiles of others to precisely target advertisements, form opinions and generate sales with the help of intelligent algorithms.

At the TEDx event in Metzingen, Sebastian Decker let us take a look at his own cards for the first time. On stage, he presented his own user profile and openly showed the audience what Google knows and thinks about him: his age, gender, interests and what he likes to eat. Google knew all that. Plus private details such as his relationship status and how many children Sebastian has.

Sebastian Decker: Can Google be fooled?

In a 2-week experiment, the scientist wanted to find out: “Can you change your user profile within a very short time and fool Google?” He then changed his entire Internet behavior for 2 weeks. One thing we’ll reveal: The result was surprising, shocking and funny at the same time.

The question remained unanswered: Are we really being bugged? Are our smartphones or smart speakers listening to us and evaluating this information?

Probably not.

But what will happen is that people who spend a lot of time together will see similar ads. Because our environment often consists of people with the same interests, hobbies and views.

And so it happens that you’re talking to a friend about learning to play the guitar soon, and a little later the ad with a guitar offer appears on your own screen.

The fact is: We decide on which topic we want to see content, but an algorithm decides exactly which content we get played and which not.

But what effect does this filtering have on society as a whole?

Sebastian Decker also talked about this.

Because the fact that we only see content that we like and that is relevant to us means that we are constantly confirmed in our opinions and views. We quickly get the impression that other opinions outside our own bubble are nonsense. The result: an increasing radicalization and division of society. This has become clear at the latest in the times of Corona.

In order for us to be able to live together peacefully in our society in the future, it is therefore absolutely necessary that we leave our own Bubble. We must decide today and actively to approach people and have direct conversations. Because only unfiltered direct conversations enable an exchange of ideas and an honest coexistence in which different opinions coexist.

Would you also like to know how the algorithms of Google, Meta and co. tick and how you can use this for yourself and your company in online marketing and digital sales? Then book Sebastian Decker for your next event at Premium Speakers.

Sebastian Decker

Expert in Online-Marketing & Digital Sales-Strategies - Google Future Lab