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Utilities v Big Tech Google and Facebook

By July 9, 2018November 6th, 2021Energy Rant

“Don’t be evil.” That was the tagline for Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the founders of Google, er Alphabet.


For some reason, they ditched this motto three years ago. They also used the name change fig leaf to paint over their sins. When you make an audacious statement like that and demonstrably act in ignorance of it, putting the best of spins on it, I do not forget. I’m reminded of it every time I see headlines like, “Tech’s Dirty Secret; The App Developers Sifting through your Gmail” or “How to Keep Google from Owning Your Online Life.” These are articles published by The Wall Street Journal; not exactly a hack news source. The latter article says:

“Google is so woven into the fabric of the internet it’s all but impossible to avoid. It’s where billions of users find, create and store important information, where they work and distract themselves from working. You can quit Facebook or take a Twitter break and barely notice, save for an increased sense of boredom in the Starbucks line. Google, you’d miss.”

Big Tech Differences

I know very little about technology and app development, but one thing I know is Google and Apple (mostly Google) dominate mobile operating systems with Android and iOS, respectively. Apple haters have not liked Apple’s stricter privacy rules and lock-downs. Fine. Run to the arms of Google, which has relatively no boundaries for privacy. See the article above regarding app developers sifting through Gmail. That isn’t all they are sifting through to be sure. It’s the wild west of cattle rustlers and train robbers.


Sign in with Facebook? No, thanks. Facebook sold users’ data to any bidder, not just the highest, biggest bidder. Once they have user data, it’s less expensive than water to sell to parched charlatans.

Facebook sold information to Cambridge Analytical, a London-based firm with “ties to the Trump campaign.” Oooh, there’s no greater sin than that. Per the same Wall Street Journal article, the site was also subject to Russian manipulation of the 2016 election.

News flash: every nation on earth, including the United States, including probably all prior administrations, and for sure the last one, attempt to manipulate foreign elections. It’s also called campaigning in some circles.

Protect Us, Please – Not

Per the ad nearby, Facebook will now bless us with filtering the fake news out of our feeds. Interesting. Facebook proceeded to fall face-first onto the concrete by declaring the Declaration of Independence to be hate speech, as reported by the radical Washington Post.

This is what happens when the naïve attempt to wield authority outside their lane of expertise. A company can (and did) look ridiculous when it charges thousands of employees to police zillions of posts per second.

News flash, the sequel: there’s no way to effectively, and in an unbiased way, filter news on an open platform, social media site. Just stick with filtering content from deranged miscreants and malcontents.

Users Take Matters Into Their Own Hands

It is similar to getting phishing attacks in your email. Rather than clicking any links in an email, or in this case taking Facebook’s censored, er, I mean filtered news, use the source sites directly. And don’t forget, everyone has an agenda. The Energy Rant has an agenda. Surprise! I’m not sure what it is other than to advocate for efficiency, spread some useful information, and serve as a relief valve for the author’s pent-up claptrap.


This brings me around to data protection for utilities. Utilities may have the strictest data privacy requirements, for 99% useless information, of any industry I can think of. It has served them well because I cannot recall any hollow “I’m sorry” dog-and-pony shows from utility executives before Congress. But also, what is more salacious than knowing how much energy the neighbor’s house uses? The brand of milk the neighbors buy is more interesting.

Besides, I get energy-comparison reports from big data firms Nest (Google, er Alphabet) and Oracle that conflict like nobody’s business. Fake news!

Regarding commercial facilities, the cost for achieving the next wave of energy and demand management will be greatly reduced through the use of large-scale commercial and industrial profiling[1] for energy use. Basic data would include electric and natural gas energy intensity by SIC or NAICS code. However, even those data are not overly reliable. An accurate assessment of conditioned floor space, especially when matched with utility meters, is a challenge to obtain and still more rare to have in a database. This profiling requires a lot of data, cleaning, and finally, a sharp human brain to pick through the static and chatter to find the gems.

What successful retailer doesn’t profile their customers? We profile customers. We just did it last year. What is the profile of the perfect client? Find them! We profile current clients, but we just haven’t thought of it that way. To not do so is a dereliction of duty, and it doesn’t help our client, which is why we are in business – to help clients! But unlike C3PO’s twin, Zuckerberg, we do our best to protect the consultant-client privilege. We don’t secretly peddle data to everyone we can at the highest price possible; or at all, for that matter.

[1] The sexier, socially acceptable term is segmentation, but it is really profile, as in, what is your profile?

Photo sources:

Facebook ad – Taken from Wall Street Journal article –

C3PO –

Mark Zuckerberg –

Jeff Ihnen

Author Jeff Ihnen

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