FACEBOOK FREAK OUT
Am I the only one who gets a little creeped out by some of the ads of Facebook? It’s not really the ads themselves that are the problem, it’s the fact that they are tailored so specifically to what we chat about on FB that’s icky.
It seems that one day you can be blathering on about a subject, say, what a boring weekend you had because your husband was watching college basketball for 72 consecutive hours, and the next thing you know, an ad for on-line college courses mysteriously appears on your home page. These ads use a perverse form of profiling, created by using keywords from our private conversations. Okay, so maybe not so private, but only a few dozen of our closest friends should be privy to our ramblings.
I can hear some of my more argumentative acquaintances now saying, “Well, what do you expect? How do you think that they are able to offer FB for free?” and “You shouldn’t put any thing out there that you don’t want heard.” And “Dear God, what are you going on about now?”
Honestly, I don’t mind seeing ads on the internet, because I can ignore them if I want to. I am aware that their existence is a small price to pay to get something for free, especially if that free item appeals to my nosy nature like FB does.
The thing that I don’t like is the Peeping Tom aspect of how they gather our private information for their advertisements. I feel so targeted and scrutinized, stared at and…naked!! My ravings are meant only for my friends to bear with, not for some creepy ad executive to get their greasy hands all over.
I try not to get too suspicious about the way in which my personal factoids are harvested. I suppose that keywords are picked up electronically and then fed off of, akin to how vultures devour the innards of some rank road kill. But sometimes I wonder if it’s really some geeky dude with pimples who wears pants that are too short and a shirt buttoned all the way up to his chin. I can picture him now, in his parent’s basement, drooling over my private postings, just waiting to find a nugget of useful gossip. His eyes light up when he sees I have written about having coffee with my friends. He rubs his tiny hands together and sends that juicy morsel of info to the Facebook Fuhrer.
ALERT! ALERT! Christine Waldman drinks coffee!! Instantly, the right hand column of my home page is filled with an ad for General Foods International Coffees.
Alright, so I maybe I am being a smidge paranoid, but I’m still worried. Right now, it may just be certain words that prompt what advertisements you will be subjected to, but that could change. How long will it be until some little dweeb and his dweeby pals will be making their own judgments about us, and basing their ads on them?
I can see it all now. “Hey Norman, get a load of this chicks profile picture! Man, what a cow! Let’s put a Jenny Craig ad on her page.” Or “Dude, is that girl talking about exercising again?!! It looks like she’d fall for a Bowflex ad.” Or “Frank, that guy has used Star Trek references 10 times this week. Let’s load up a Match.com ad, because he seriously needs a date.”
I’m suspicious that this could be happening already. I have had ads for Weight Watchers (clearly I didn’t suck my gut in enough on my profile picture), botox injections (I guess that photo didn’t hide my wrinkles after all), vacation packages (I must look so harried, that they think I need to get away), and ads asking if I use makeup (because I really need to?!), as well as hair removal spots, (do I resemble the pre-makeover Susan Boyle?).
I swear, that if I see an ad for a retirement community or Depends, I’m just going to curl up in a ball and never come out of my house again. My only link to the outside world will be FB….Hey wait a minute! It could all be a devious plan to do nothing but stay at home and cruise FB, and blindly purchase every item and service I see. Yes, I think that I do need to get a large number of botox injections, so many in fact, that I will no longer able to blink. And even though every minute of my day is used up raising 3 kids, I feel a sudden need to cram in a few college courses. Also, I now have a desire to be waxed until I look like a naked mole rat.
Because I have concerns over the nature of these advertisements, I thought that I might conduct a little experiment to see if I’m being unreasonable. I decided to post comments about my problems with Erectile Dysfunction. I want to see how many times I need to write the phrase, “My penis is faulty” before an ad for Viagra pops up (so to speak).
Now as most of you know, being a woman, I do not possess that particular piece of equipment (although I do have a piece of equipment for sale on Craigslist; a 20” Hedge trimmer, if you are interested). I am not a man with wee wee problems, and have no use for a wee wee enhancer. I am hoping that this will show how closely the FB people pay attention to who is saying what. Is it truly just keywords that prompt the ads? Or are there a gaggle of geeks who are outsourced by the FB Fuhrer to spy on us and criticize our chubby thighs? Or perhaps I have nothing better to do than make up crazy theories about things.
I guess if you read any of my other blogs that last option is the most likely scenario, but just in case I’m wrong, I must inform you that my penis is faulty.
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