Restaurant Googles its patrons

A restaurant is using Google to gather information about its customers before they arrive. They are doing this in order to provide better service by customizing patrons’ experiences. They will wish someone a happy birthday, match servers with patrons with certain similar interests, etc.

While I can understand trying to provide better service, it’s sort of creepy having someone snoop on you personally. They aren’t necessarily looking at your professional life (although they could use information regarding your career to connect with a patron on a more personal level). They gather and use any information that they can find on the internet about you.

Imagine you sit down to eat, and a server comes up and unexpectedly wishes you a happy birthday. Would you say thank you and feel good that someone took the time to wish you a happy birthday? Or would you wonder, or possibly ask how he/she knew it was your birthday? My reaction would be surprise (not the good kind) and a feeling of violation, possibly disgust (after I confirmed with everyone at my table that they said nothing about it being my birthday).

At what point to we say it’s ok for anyone to know certain information about you and when it’s not ok? I thought a quote from this article stated it pretty well: “most people aren’t too hesitant to give up their personal information, but when it’s used for stuff they aren’t expecting, it feels like a violation.”

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