Creepy And Accurate

So I don’t use Instagram much, but I do have an account.  I just clicked on it out of boredom and began scrolling.  Almost immediately I was presented with ads that were decidedly well aimed.  Very well aimed.  I clicked on 3 ads in a 40 minute scroll through my instagram feed.

I think I’ve intentionally clicked on 3 ads in the previous 3 years before that.  Maybe longer.  I just don’t click.  In fact I mostly don’t see them because I have an addblocker extension in Chrome.  Sometimes I unblock on creator’s website and see their ads.  Google ads are nearly always reminder ads of places where I shopped.  It’s super easy to resist because that decision was already made and I’ve already seen the things.

But Instagram is an app on my phone, so no ad block.  It’s a Facebook company,  and their ad targeting is much more insidious.  They know who I am.  They put things in front of me that I’ve never seen before. Things that intrigued me and made me go look at the product.  A portable microscope camera that you can attach to your phone and look at stuff in microcosmos – like right out in the real world!  A clean key that can be used to press buttons on credit card machines and ATMs and also has a hook that will let you use it to grab some door handles. – a practical and useful thing in this day and age.   A tablet that is geared toward writing rather than typing made an appeal to the old person inside me.

On the one hand, I guess it’s nice to see something new that fascinates me.  On the other hand, it just knew me way too well.  That portable microscope – so niche.  But I was within an ace of spending money on it despite it being an utterly useless thing in my life and me being short of money due to a cut in hours.   I bought the clean key though.  It was expensive but I have to use a keypad to get into my apartment building.  I’m constantly aware of how many surfaces I touch when I’m out in the world.  I think it’s going be necessary to find ways to mitigate this in the next year.  This feels like a good option.

The truth is I’m more pleased to be seen by the computer overlords than upset that algorithms snoop so much.  I’m not even on Facebook.  I only have instagram.  But the people I follow on instagram are apparently a big clue as to who I am.   Sigh.  I’m pretty sure I should be outraged.  That’s what everyone else says.  But, hell.  It wasn’t a bad experience.  It was kind of good.

7 thoughts on “Creepy And Accurate

  1. Facebook is trying to be unavoidable. It’s been buying up more and more companies, a lot of them not even related to anything FB would normally do, just to be able to better track people and serve up ads to them. And it’s amazing how good they are at pushing ads at you specifically designed to make you want to buy something.

    I avoid FB at all costs. I don’t have an account and I’ve tried to avoid any of the companies it owns. But that being said, Amazon and Google do pretty much the same thing and I put up with it from them. Those two companies alone probably know more about me than members of my own family do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was thinking about that. It’s not so much what they know – it’s that clever algorithm understanding you based on the information they know. My family / friend probably know at least the same information and more, but I doubt any of them would think to get me that portable microscope for Christmas. it’s that extra tweak of connections that is so creepy and yet so pleasing.


  2. I used to like Amazon ads because they were straightforward: “You bought book X, so you might like this book Y.” And a lot of times they were right. It was here on WordPress that ads started getting creepy – they curiously lined up with tags and words used in my posts. In the end, I upgraded to get rid of them. Was that their goal all along?

    Liked by 1 person

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