This question goes back at least to 2002. The Wall Street Journal wrote an article titled,
If TiVo Thinks You Are Gay, Here's How to Set It Straight
The article is behind a strong paywall but its value does not lie in its content. Rather, the point is that as long as 17 years ago, it was clear that companies that provide digital services can and do use your behavior to make judgments about your personal life.
I found a copy of the full abstract of this article here.
Basil Iwanyk is not a neo-Nazi. Lukas Karlsson isn't a shadowy
stalker. David S. Cohen is not Korean.
But all of them live with a machine that seems intent on giving them
such labels. It's their TiVo, the digital videorecorder that records
some programs it just assumes its owner will like, based on shows the
viewer has chosen to record. A phone call the machine makes to TiVo,
Inc., in San Jose, Calif., once a day provides key information. As
these men learned, when TiVo thinks it has you pegged, there's just
one way to change its "mind": outfox it.
Mr. Iwanyk, 32 years old, first suspected that his TiVo thought he was
gay, since it inexplicably kept recording programs with gay themes. A
film studio executive in Los Angeles and the self-described
"straightest guy on earth," he tried to tame TiVo's gay fixation by
recording war movies and other "guy stuff."
"The problem was, I overcompensated," he says. "It started giving me
documentaries on Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Eichmann. It stopped
thinking I was gay and decided I was a crazy guy reminiscing about the
Another reference to the same issue is from 2016:
This is a paywalled academic article. Here's the abstract.
In 2002, during Silicon Valley’s recovery after the dot-com crash and
the recent push for sexual equality in the United States and across
the globe, various media began pondering the question of what to do if
TiVo “thinks you are gay.” Here, I analyze a King of Queens
(1998–2007) episode and a The Mind of the Married Man (2001–2012)
episode that center on this question and how they illustrate a sudden
breakdown in sexual norms and identities even as they served to make
TiVo’s personal video recorders (PVRs) and recommendation systems more
attractive to the urban, liberal, and largely heterosexual viewer that
TiVo desired. These narratives became deeply connected to TiVo’s
identity in ways that made the PVR appear simultaneously transgressive
and conventional—the birth of a new algorithmic culture and the
furtherance of the television industry as status quo.
The "birth of a new algorithmic culture" indeed.
I should mention in case anyone doesn't know, TiVo was the first company to market digital video recorders (DVRs). DVRs allow you to program them to record your favorite television shows. I'm not even sure if they're popular anymore since you can just download whatever you want these days.
I can't tell you what the philosophers say about how things should be. In practice this train has long left the station. Every single one of your clicks goes into a database to be datamined and monetized. What's called "AI" these days is just very sophisticated datamining. This is a fact of the world we live in.
Here's another similar story I ran across.
How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did
Ethical? At this point what difference does it make? Our entire economy is based on monetizing clicks. As Socrates might say if he came back and got a job as Google's in-house philosopher: The unmonetized life is not worth living. Yes, Google has an in-house philosopher.