Though I have largely got out of the habit of scrolling through the infinite loop that is the Facebook newsfeed, I still occasionally spend a bit of time doing so. Last Saturday evening I was on a train journey, and after a few chapters of the novel I was reading I had a browse through my newsfeed. It’s on the occasions that I do this that I notice the targeted ads that pop up, and am often baffled by them.
The first of such ads I noticed was for some kind of sling* used for carrying round a homunculus. How Facebook’s algorithms arrived at the conclusion that I would be interested in such a device is beyond me, as I am not in the possession of a miniature human in any shape or from. There is nothing in my search history about products for babies or children. Where did they get that idea from?
The second one was some sort of ad for something that the racist loudmouth embarrassment Conor McGregor is involved in. I didn’t click on it of course to find out what it is about. Ok, maybe Facebook recognised that I looked up the result of his last fight, and that I commented about him before, on what an arsehole he is. I don’t have any interest in the UFC, but enjoyed the schadenfreude of seeing such a poor excuse for a human being getting put in his place. Facebook obviously construed this as me being interested in him in general, and thought to send me ads about him.
I suppose that one makes a little bit of sense, as I had mentioned his name in posts in the past. Quite some time ago I also got sent a recommendation for the Irish Friends of Israel – a Zionist organisation. Somehow being connected with Israeli and Jewish human rights organisations led them to think I was interested in the occupation propaganda. How more wrong could they be. I wonder whether I’ll start getting ads for palm oil products, seeing as I wrote about them yesterday? Or maybe ads for Nestlé, since I recently wrote a piece condemning their business?
I suppose I should be heartened by the fact that Skynet hasn’t figured me out yet. Social media would be a lot scarier if it started being accurate in what it is targeting. So, since they seem to get my interests wrong all the time, I won’t have to worry about the ad for an STI clinic that also appeared on my newsfeed. Thank heavens for small mercies.