Ben Kuchera at Penny Arcade has a great story about how Microsoft is using your information to sell political content:
“To understand more about the political attitudes, behaviors and issue priorities of Xbox LIVE members, Xbox commissioned StrategyOne to conduct a survey of 1,678 Xbox LIVE households,” Microsoft said in a press release. “The survey, which was conducted June 19 to July 3, 2012, found that 40% are swing voters: Those who are not firmly committed to a presidential candidate.”
Let’s take a step back here, and realize that Microsoft is sharing your information with polling organizations so you can be invited to take part in surveys. “The survey was conducted June 19 through July 3, 2012 and included 324 landline, 684 cellphone and 670 online interviews,” the statement explained. So if you’ve received a landline or cell phone call asking for your political views, there’s a chance they’re using the information from your Xbox Live account, and it was directly provided to the company by Microsoft.
That information was then collected into a branded data set about voters and used to promote Xbox Live and push Microsoft-curated political news to users who are given no way to opt out. This is a very troubling area for a platform that is sold as pure entertainment.
I'm not surprised this is happening, but I'm concerned about how Microsoft is selecting and editing this content. There's no transparency, and there's no accountability. Kuchera points out that Xbox content is for sale. Is this another arena where super PACs will dominate? Seems likely, doesn't it?