Walmart is acquiring Vizio to better get to know you

This is absolutely the last thing we need right now.

MajorLinux - Editor-in-chief

Consolidation seems to be the talk of the town lately in the tech space. If we aren’t talking about layoffs, then we’re talking about acquisitions. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen lately, acquisitions most definitely lead to layoffs. But, at the end of the day, acquisitions are just business decisions. With that in mind, Walmart decided it was a great decision to know its customers a lot more than you may be comfortable with.

What was a rumor last week, Walmart has officially put a ring on Vizio. Vizio, a maker of really affordable and “good for the price” TVs will be joining the behemoth of physical retail for $2.3 billion.

The acquisition of Vizio and its SmartCast Operating System (OS) would enable Walmart to connect with and serve its customers in new ways including innovative television and in-home entertainment and media experiences. It would also create new opportunities to help advertisers connect with customers, empowering brands with differentiated and compelling opportunities to engage at scale and to realize greater impact from their advertising spend with Walmart.”

excerpt from Walmart press release

With this deal brings Vizio’s direct advertiser partnerships. Thanks to the Vizio Platform Plus business, there are 500 companies that helped account “for a majority of the company’s gross profit.” The TV OS that powers all this, SmartCast, is being utilized by more than 18 million active accounts.

Stop TV snooping

Now, this is the point where I would probably say that my favorite budget TV brand will no longer exist. I don’t shop at Walmart if I don’t have to which means I may never see Vizio again. That being said, if you regularly shop at Walmart, I’ll encourage you to still go for it.

But this comes with a HUGE caveat. In fact, this is so big, it might have to be a Tech Talk Commandment for all TVs. If the TV is internet-capable, do not plug it in to your network. Do not connect it to Wi-Fi. Doing that gives the manufacturer enough insight into what you’re doing with the TV. TVs now can track your habits by seeing what apps you use, what channels you watch, even what shows you’re watching. You can turn off some of these features, but the best way to be safe is to make sure the TV never phones home.

So, if you are buying a new TV to watch some dope 4K content, look into buying a streaming box. Or, giving that streaming services are becoming way too expensive or loves to serve you ads for things you pay for, the high seas are always available.

Source: The Verge

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By MajorLinux Editor-in-chief
Marcus Summers is a Linux system administrator by trade. He has been working with Linux for nearly 15 years and has become a fan of open source ideals. He self identifies as a socialist and believes that the world's information should be free for all.
  • How is a streaming box (Roku, Amazon Fire, Goole Chromecast, Apple TV) which connects to your home network any better than connecting a Smart TV? Is plugging a Roku stick into my TV better any safer than using a Roku TV from TCL? It feels like a TCL Roku Smart TV and a separate Roku streaming device would be the same risk profile. What about an LG TV with the webOS? What about Samsung – actually, don’t bother, their interface is absolutely awful and they’ve already been caught spying.

    Lumping all these services together into isn’t really helpful. Any chance we could get a network analysis a la Wireshark of what each of these services is phoning home with by default, and what can be disabled?

    • I believe that the streaming boxes will send far less data (if any at all) to third party advertisers.

      Least of all, if you choose to watch non-internet based TV (antenna, cable, satellite TV) those boxes won’t be capturing that data and sending it to advertisers.

      I guess my argument would be with a streaming box, you are more likely aware that data is being sent than the average user would be connecting the TV to the internet and sending data back that you are watching Wheel of Fortune on a local TV channel.

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