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Burger King finds a disturbing way to get people to stay home

What does it take to persuade people to give up their geolocation data? Just a little technology and psychology, it seems.
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Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributor on
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Is it worth giving up your privacy for? Of course it is.

Burger King

We're all very particular about our privacy.

Well, at least we say we are.

Yet the Coronavirus crisis has forced us to examine which principles we'll stand up for. And which principles we'll happily give up without a qualm.

In countries like South Korea, citizens have gladly allowed themselves to be traced in order to help the common good in fighting the virus. Yes, they've given up privacy. They hope their commitment to the nation's health won't be taken advantage of by unscrupulous officials.

Burger King must have thought long and hard about this. How could the brand get people to give up their location data without fearing they were being told a whopper?

The burger chain chose a classic route. Bribery.

Burger King's Brazilian arm asked customers to download its app and allow the chain to check, via geolocation data, whether they were actually, really sheltering in place and being distantly responsible.

Would you let your government do it? Oh, I don't know. Especially if your government is headed by a noisy, shifty character. Perhaps someone such as, say, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro.

But Burger King has something that Bolsonaro doesn't -- free food and other rewards.

Yes, if Burger King's surveillance team concludes that you've been an upstanding, socially distanced person it'll offer you little somethings. And even a whopping great combo meal. For free.

Brazil has been severely hit by the virus, though no one is entirely sure how severely. It took a court order for the government to resume publishing actual data.

Yet here is Burger King utilizing the psychologically astute burger-and-stick strategy -- with the help of convenient technology -- in order to help the common good.

"Even with the social distancing recommendation, we want to be present in people's daily lives in a relevant way," Thais Nicolau, director of communication and innovation at Burger King Brazil told the Drum.

That's the beauty of technology. It allows corporations to be remote, but present. Sadly, sometimes that means ever-present.

We give up our geolocation details so regularly -- and so unknowingly -- that perhaps one shouldn't be disturbed by Burger King's ingenuity.

But do you really want your local Burger King to know where you are all day? What if they mock you the next time you're at the drive-thru?

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