Side Note

MoviePass is too good to be true

You had to see this coming, right?

Remember MoviePass? That movie theater subscription service that’s so alarmingly cheap it almost seemed too good to be true? Well, it turns out it’s actually too good to be true. Sorry you had to find out like this.

According to Media Play News, last week, MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe delivered a keynote address worryingly titled “Data is the New Oil: How Will MoviePass Monetize It?” wherein he told audience members “We know everything about you.” Lowe went on to tell the crowd that MoviePass has been collecting a “an enormous amount of information” about its subscribers, including location and demographic data.

Lowe said that the company tracks its subscribers using their phone’s GPS, which they are allowed access to through the app. Media Play News reports that this massive data collection effort is part of a long-term revenue strategy for MoviePass.

“We watch how you drive from home to the movies,” said Lowe. “We watch where you go afterwards.”

As unnerving as it may sound, this is just the way the business world is nowadays. Everything we do (both on and offline) leaves a rich trail of personal information about our shopping habits, health, demographics, and so on — basically all of the things that advertisers, insurers, and sketchy analytics companies so desperately need. Our phones collect a treasure trove of data about our every move, and — thanks to our inability to properly read and vet privacy agreements, or those pesky little things known as “Terms and Conditions” — apps do too. As do browsers, wearables, smart speakers, and basically any other type of technology.

There’s a huge amount of money to be made in the data broker business — oftentimes more than there is to be made in say, the confusingly cheap movie ticket subscription business. Throw in the total lack of legislation governing these sorts of practices and it’s easy to see why the business world is growing more and more obsessed.