Ads Designed Just for You

In class, we mentioned the advertisements in Anderson’s Feed, but only briefly discussed the nature of those advertisements. In this post, I want to delve deeper into the kinds of ads Titus and his friends were subject to. Titus describes the feed as knowing “everything you want and hope for, sometimes before you even know what those things are”(48). This is possible because big data corporations take in all the information of what people think and feel and use that for individual profiles to show custom ads. If that sounds creepy to you, good, but I have some bad news…we are victims of the same technology.

Our computers might not be reading our minds directly like the feed, but they are keeping track of what words we type, what websites we visit, and even what we do or don’t do on those websites (so basically reading our minds). That is how we end up with wonderful targeted ads like this one I encountered while trying to solve a math problem.

Screenshot of ad for futons while doing math

Yes, I have been trying to buy a futon for the past week. However, I bought one and moved on with my life. Despite this,  these ads still appear. The persistence of these ads have shattered my technological imaginary that technology is well designed and should work without a hitch. Since my computer knows everything about me, I would expect the ads to move on to something relevant in my life now. Instead, I’m left feeling like this:

CollegeHumor. (16 July 2016). If Internet Ads Were Salesmen [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=KbKdKcGJ4tM

Targeted ads require invasive technologies, and sometimes don’t work well, but I would rather get a relevant ad some of the time than random ads all of the time. Titus and his friends don’t have a choice of what they see, but I’m sure they would agree.

If you’re ever looking for a way to get rid of these targeted ads, maybe this can help. Fair warning: you’ll still get ads, just not personalized ones.

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