Personalized Facebook ads are creepy

Brad Stone in the New York Times: hyperpersonalized Facebook ads are creepy.


  1. I honestly don’t know what it is about my Facebook profile or my emails, but the ads on Facebook and Gmail seem to have me perfectly profiled. Between the two of them, I found online stores I really like selling things I’ve been thinking of (but not to my knowledge, writing about) buying. I am simultaneously delighted and weirded out.

  2. They’re a bit sad and desperate, most of them – Special offer just for (fill in characteristic from profile).

    If they were actually using the data to select ads that I might be interested in, it would be worth the effort, but a blatant personalisation of boiler-plate doesn’t work for me.

    Not creepy, just ineffective.

  3. I changed my gender on my Facebook profile from ‘female’ to ‘none’. When I was ‘female’ to FB, 65% of the ads were for ridiculous and unsafe weight loss products, 15% were for teeth whitening, and the remainder were for dating sites . Because of course, that’s all that women are interested in. Not being seen as fat and ugly and single. Yeah, right.

    Currently on my genderless FB, the ads are begging me to become a Wiccan through purchasing a set of supplies from some online shop (which is interesting ’cause my profile also says quite clearly that Jesus is just all right with me), and two schools competing for my FAFSA dollars.

  4. The really weird ones are the sidebar ads to friend certain individuals. Can’t people just send friend requests?

  5. Ads? I’m amazed that anyone still browses the web without ad blocking. I suppose not everybody hates ads like I do, but it’s just hard for me to accept.

  6. I just want large breasted women to stop googling me….it’s getting to be really annoying.

  7. I find that the depth of ads just isn’t there – I mean, how many ads have you really seen? I see ‘singles’ ads, stupid game ads and oh ever so rarely an ad for something remotely interesting and practical – electronics or some new local service.

    Thing is, I’ve specifically made a point of trying to provide feedback on ads that aren’t of interest to me but had no change whatsoever in my ad stream. Singles ad, singles ad, singles ad, zynga game, singles ad, zynga game, singles ad, singles ad, singles ad…. ugh.

    The thing that got me paying attention to the ads in the first place is that I *swear* one of the pics used by a singles ad is someone on my friends’ list. I can’t be sure but it looks enough like her that I’m creeped out by it.

    I think the problem with crappy ads isn’t going to rectify itself until the market opens up – i.e. adblock becomes less pervasive – and that won’t happen unless the ads start to improve first. It’s a first rate conundrum ultimately caused by the fact that all marketing is detrimental to the net benefit of consumers and producers combined – it’s the prisoner’s, or rather, the prisoners’ dilemma applied to companies: you either bullshit your consumers or someone else will definitely get the sale. Of course in the cases where the business model is a scam or has very little variable cost associated with each sale/customer, marketing is the only real driver of sales beyond novelty..

  8. A few weeks ago I was 28 and male: “Single girls looking for 28 year olds!”. A week later I was 29 (still male): “Single girls looking for 29 year olds!”. Presumably if I’m no longer single I won’t get such ads any more? Does the ad for “have an affair dot com” appear when my status is “married”?

    1. As soon as I changed my relationship status from single to in a relationship, I started getting all these ads for weird “save your relationship!” “how to have an amazing relationship!” books, haha. I was a little weirded out.

  9. I get frustrated by the ads for things that are 1) Canadian but wrong province 2)Dating sites while I have my status set to in a relationship 3)Beer-related … no matter how many times I thumb down the damn beer ads they keep coming back. I wish they were MORE customized if that’s all I’m gonna get. All the weightloss ones kept getting flagged as offensive, so I get a lot less of those…

  10. Try to experiment with profile settings that bring out weird ads or something.

    Do odd settings generate odd ads?

    1. i suggest that everybody insert in thier profile, that they are a 100 year old male who lives in antartica, makes wooden shoes and square dances for a hobby and makes a living yak farming.

  11. Ads aren’t as creepy as facebook suggesting co-workers as friends when I haven’t even entered my work place plus my city location on facebook is not the city where I work and live in (added for a reason).

  12. I just got totally creeped out wihen I discovered that Facebook has superimposed my facebook identity on all my internet sites, and that when I write a comment (formerly with a nom de plume) it defaults to posting all comments to MY facebook account. If I sign OUT of facebook, I’m okay. Then, before I was able to access my account to change settings, FB tried to pressure me to join a site about the city I live in! Sheesh. The ads on the side are bad enough, but to have FB pop-ups based on my private (not disclosed online) information?

    So, I changed all my info to “ONLY ME” through customizations, and will probably delete my account. This is really creepy.

    FWIW, I’ve always had my age as 103! hahahahah.

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