The New York Times recently purchased the popular online word-guessing game Wordle — and appears to have immediately added ad-tracking, sending user data not only to the Times, but also to Google and other third parties.
Gizmodo reports that less than a month after the New York Times purchased the popular daily word-guessing Wordle, the company appears to have added a number of ad tracking cookies to the game. The NYT reportedly paid seven-figure price for the rights to the game, which is currently still free to play, meaning the company is looking for ways to recoup its investment based on user surveillance, the traditional business model of the Silicon Valley Masters of the Universe.
This photo illustration shows a person playing online word game “Wordle” on a mobile phone in Washington, DC on January 11, 2022. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)
One of the primary ways it appears to be doing that is the addition of ad trackers to the Wordle webpage. Gizmodo found that many of trackers linked directly back to the NYT but that most were being used to send user data to third-party companies like Google.
So no the NYT did not make Wordle harder or even change it all that much…. but can you imagine how hard it will be now if they had *any* plans to tweak it? Whew.
Separately, NYT didn’t change the game, but they sure changed the deployment. Lots more tracking. pic.twitter.com/HbrkF5o0eh
— Ben Adida (@benadida) February 16, 2022
While the Wordle page has not changed its appearance and is still the same five-letter word-guessing game that people have grown to love, it has undergone considerable changes under the hood with the addition of trackers.
Gizmodo has suggested one possible “nightmare scenario” given this new evidence, writing:
Ad trackers were created to shove t-shirts and mugs onto all of our timelines, but they can also be used for outright surveillance. There are countless cases of cops using the data gleaned from those shitty ads to track protestors, immigrants, and anyone else they’d want completely warrant-free. And two of the companies that officers tap on the regular for this work—Google and Oracle (via its infamous Bluekai subsidiary)—are tied up in Wordle’s shiny new trackers. Every time you open the page to see the day’s puzzle to complain about how hard it is, the page pings details back to those companies—and the data it shares can be extremely detailed, as Bluekai’s own documents lay out. At the very least, it’s likely sending broad strokes to say you were on the site at a certain time, while your device was at a certain location.
Read more at Gizmodo here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address firstname.lastname@example.org