For instance, I am a transgender woman and I get THE WEIRDEST ads. Makes sense, since an algorithm meshing together my engagement histories from ten years of social platforms must see something quite strange.
The only appropriately targeted advertisements I get are from academics interested in studying me. Like: "are you a trans woman? Take this study and win a gift card."
When platforms attempt to monetize me, they wind up pushing the brooks brothers dress shirt deals and so on that I used to gobble up in my prior life.
I've taken my business local as a result, but the algorithmic rejection of my reality on these platforms takes a pretty consistent toll. I don't know what the solution is, but wanted to underscore that this is a broader problem.
Greetings Professor Falken
A strange game.
The only winning move
is not to play.
(1983 - Wargames)
Advertisement is inherently intrusive, it's goal is to make you listen to some message you didn't ask for. It is strictly one-way communication and as such it's deeply authoritarian: tptb have the right to talk, you are coerced to listen (it goes against fair access to public speech, which goes against the ability to exercise your power on society as a citizen). It is based on ethically questionable methods: psychological manipulation and information gathering; to provide some hindsight, when performed by an individual and not a corporation, we call this behavior harassment or psychological abuse. Yeah sure, you might be stalked by a nice guy with whom you could be friend just like you might see an ad on an interesting product, but no, stalking is oppressive even if done by a nice guy and harassment is a tiny fraction of the possibilities you have to communicate. You want to get a new fridge? Ads will not help you while an independent comparison or buyers guide will. You cycle a lot and would like to keep up-to-date with related products? Subscribe to the newsletter of some cycling community. We don't need ads for anything, they only solve some problems as byproducts and we can always solve them more efficiently and less intrusively.
F ALL ADS
note: i didn't properly define "ads" here but broadening from pure "commercials" we could have mostly the same arguments against all sorts of "public relations" like corporate communication or modern vote-based politics.
[#] there is no such thing as "non-targeted advertisement"
About the only issue you may run into still is shopping sites, where they may offer "related" products. Amazon is brutal with this in particular.
The ads I see across platforms and websites are so hilariously dumb and irrelevant now. You are going to be tracked, might as well ruin the analytics.
Basically, it hides and silently clicks on every ad in the background. It even has an archive where it shows you the ads it has hidden and clicked, so you can check in to see what advertisers think you are interested in, and it tries to eyeball the cost of those clicks to advertisers. Lots of fun to load the worst ad-ridden offenders' websites and get a smug sense of satisfaction that you wasted advertisers' money
Then I found this on their FAQ (https://github.com/dhowe/AdNauseam/wiki/FAQ#what-is-the-clic...):
> What is the "click-probability" setting?
This setting lets you control the likelihood that each discovered Ad will actually be clicked by AdNauseam. 'Always' means that every Ad discovered will be clicked, while 'Rarely' means that very few ads will be clicked(10%).
Another thing we can do: when you do a search, perform another search for the opposite. Or perform 2 irrelevant, random searches on things you literally don't care about or have nothing to do with your life. If we give them more crap than actual data, their algorithms would probably become ineffective.
And most of the time I have uBlock enabled. I'm not entirely sure if messing with the tracking system actually weighs up against having to browse without uBlock.
This assumes Google isn't effectively a monopoly. Is that assumption valid?
Unfortunately the people to pay the toll would be the businesses running CPC campaigns, not google.
You'd have to run it at such massive scale that google wouldn't be able to collect because advertisers could show that something was wrong with google's model.
Lying to CAPTCHA is getting tougher these days - it takes me a few minutes now before they let me through even though I've identified a plain piece of road as a sign. It's a pain to sit through until they let me go, but I'M NOT YOUR FREE TRAINING DATA!
There it still seems to outsmart DuckDuckGo. Else than that I haver zero reason to look back. As a matter of fact. That little box, containing basics for questions like "shell date operations" is usually sufficient and if not you have a link to (usually) stackoverflow. I really like the concept.
I could be completely wrong though. Is there anyone up to date on modern ML capabilities to comment on whether this data is useful and what for? I used to think it made sense, especially with ReCAPTCHA (digitizing books) but it just doesn't seem that valuable any more?
As for survey/reviews I routinely one star apps that nag me to leave a review. Some apps have two options "review now" or "remind me later" . Those apps get reviewed, "app is great, but won't stop fucking asking me for a review even though I already have."
That aside and in the interim, a small thing we can all do if you’re concerned about privacy is to inform people when discussing such matters where to go on their devices to learn about what is known about them.
No other conversation has scared indivuals I’ve met more than showing them their ad interests.
I just post irrelevant stuff to social media. Keep likes under control. Ad-block/tracking blocker and I'm wary of what I search in search boxes (Google or others. Sometimes DDG doesn't give a good answer so I go back to Google).
If any of the answers is yes then you are being watched and profiled. And of course those companies you actively avoid would simply buy raw data or "analytics" from the companies you still use.
My point being that it's harder to escape than it looks.
I'm sure no one in the room of marketing execs has considered personal consequences like this one.
This type of thing is why I do my best to enable privacy settings and disable personalized ads. I don't actually care whether Google knows what I ate for dinner last night, but I don't want constantly see Google's fuzzy judgements of my humanity as I browse the web.
Honestly, I'm not sure theres anything to do about it. As awful as losing our son was, I'm not sure taking away others rights is really an appropriate response. While Facebook would be wise to take these things into account to build social trust, advertisers themselves are always going to want to advertise their products.
Your first sentence was more correct (I suspect) : they thought about it and purposely forgot about it 'cos there was no money to be made there.
I work for a large corporate, and I can honestly say that I think no-one would make such a decision. Perhaps I am naive.
However, what about (in thought not out loud) 'False positives are hard to prevent, special cases like these are very rare. Instrumenting our platform with exceptions like these is a massive undertaking for which I don't have the political capital. Lets not take action now.'
From outside the company, those are nearly the same reaction. From inside the head of the thinker, they are very different.
Serving up ads that are guaranteed to not apply are a negative because it means you're giving up the opportunity to serve up ads that might actually make money.
Is FB or Google going to change this to improve their conversion rate by ~1%? Probably not, 1% is not a lot.
In the end, as long as the advertising platform gets a decent conversion rate on 'Just had a baby' for the advertisers, everyone is happy.
Heck, advertisers might prefer 10% accuracy and 90% recall over 50% accuracy and 80% recall. If pushing that recall up a bit yields a few more customers, the extra cost of showing that to a lot more non-viable people might just work out.
> Stillbirth effects about 1% of all pregnancies, and each year about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States. That is about the same number of babies that die during the first year of life and it is more than 10 times as many deaths as the number that occur from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
I consider 1% to be a pretty low percentage, myself.
And you can monetize transgenderism, so unless the cost of this letter starts to get very expensive, OP's advertising will get better well before mothers of stillborn children.
So now some of the ad targeting networks have me targeted as "woman who's a successful professional and knows what she's doing in life", which, uh, is correct up until that last part.
The robots are just not expecting a woman in her thirties to still be baffled and overwhelmed by fashion and looking for the basics. I get my most useful recommendations by word of mouth, and yay, that sounds very nice and authentic, but it's a slow process.
So this is a different problem than the original article: we could be targeted _better_ and both we and the advertisers would be happy, for at least a moment.
But. We're trusting the advertisers to use that information responsibly. What if the kind of people who make those anti-trans reply videos on YouTube start taking out deliberately divisive ads, targeted at the trans community? On balance, I think it might be better for the ad networks to not quite understand.
All it takes is a really really simple wrench in their system: my wife uses my computer (oh my god can you imagine that?!)
Yep. Remarketing is a great way to ruin Christmas shopping surprises on a shared IP address.
On the other hand I wonder, would you be okay with these ad networks being able to identify you as transgender? And then tailoring ads towards you? I'm sure there are things that are still interesting to you post-transition.
I'm not sure how but one time I started getting a few ads in Spanish about toothpaste. I had also just found out about the ad settings page, and after taking the minute to remove the handful of wrong interests, the incorrectly targeted ads stopped.
Edit: Facebook allows it as well, here are the links for anyone that wants to do it now.
... improve the tracking accuracy of your data in exchange for reducing your annoyance with ads
But personally I like targeted advertising. Ads let me use services for no monetary payment while still providing income for the content creators, and I like seeing ads that are targeted towards my interests more than ads that aren't. And while it's not ideal that you might have to go in and change what your preferences are in cases where they get it wrong, I much prefer it over the alternative of all ads being "wrong" for me.
It's important to note that this is not an especially unlikely event. Of my 10 closest female friends, who eventually had children, I know that at least 5 of them had a miscarriage at some point in their life. I've a friend who had several miscarriages before having a successful pregnancy carried to term.
Admittedly, if a woman makes it past the first few weeks, her chances improve:
"Once a pregnancy makes it to 6 weeks and has confirmed viability with a heartbeat, the risk of having a miscarriage drops to 10 percent."
That sucks. :/
https://someonewhocares.org/hosts/ and https://github.com/StevenBlack/hosts/blob/10bba14590738c445c...
There's no reason at all, except laziness on the part of marketers, not to handle this case. Marketers who hope for a long-term relationship with young families might be really smart to avoid alienating them by pitching snuggly carriers to women who've just suffered a miscarriage.
* I use Facebook in safari on ios and have ad blockers enabled
* I use the youtube app logged out
* Twitter I generally visit people's profiles directly or in a 3rd party all
Instagram is the only one I can't fix, as I use the app. Maybe if I did more in the web browser, but then I'd lose stories.
Anyway, Instagram consistently serves up ads that are in the ballpark of relevant to me. But other than that, the ads I see are random generic ads for stuff like cars and laundry detergent. The kind of mass market ads you'd see on TV. I get ads in other languages when I travel.
It's nice, I can mostly ignore them. Of course, key to this is that I prefer to ignore algorithms on things like youtube. This method won't work if you need that.
But if you don't mind algorithms not being personalized, you can make the ads irrelevant to you too.
I might actually switch to viewing it in browser more. But I think you lose the messaging. And the ability to post as well, but I don't post as much as I watch.
Aren't still births something like 1%? That's not super common, but unlikely isn't quite the right word either. You're unlikely to die in an airplane crash.
Stillbirths are about 1/45 births.
This reminds me of when engineers were designing the first air bags. They didn’t think about the size difference between women and men. Diversity matters because it gives you different perspectives about life. I suspect that if the ratio of men to women in the tech industry were reversed this wouldn’t be an issues because it would have come up in discussions.
Trying to frame child loss as something that only happens to women is not only insulting to the equal number of men who have lost children but also furthers the notion that men dont care, when most research on the area shows they care pretty much the same as the mother. Comments that further this notion are what lead to the disproportionately high alcoholism and drug abuse rate for dads of loss
How can she blame the algorithms for rejecting her, if her past actually contains things that the algorithm happens to pick up on?
Since everybody gets ads that don't appeal to them, clearly it is just a case of algorithms not being smart enough. It's like saying the sky rejects her because it isn't pink. It is blue for technical reasons, not to spite her identity.
Would you say the same about the situation in the linked article?
Maybe, to sum it up in a more friendly way, this quote is a good summary: "never attribute to malice what you can attribute to incompetence" (don't know who said it).
As for the miscarriage, I likewise wouldn't blame the algorithms or companies. However, I would think that most of them would be happy to learn and improve their algorithms. So pointing out such a flaw should hopefully be received well.
Chrome Extension: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/clearcoin-the-ad-b...
This is just an ad?
Those ads are not your friends. Don't expect them to treat you like they care.
You're not sharing your information with a human. You're sharing it with a business who is tuned to maximize profit. The ROI on dealing with still births for advertising is probably negative.
They don't care about you. You've made the decision to let a business deep into your personal life, a space once reserved only for loved ones. These are the consequences.
>The ROI on dealing with still births for advertising is probably negative.
would hopefully not be true anymore due to negative PR, companies would take action out of pure self-interest, and it would stop this situation from happening to future people.
There's of course still the broader problem of companies ravenously and irresponsibly gathering as much data on individuals as possible. To me any increase in a company's liability for the information they're hoarding, even in the form of righteous outrage that on its surface seems to anthropomorphize them, is a step in the right direction.
I suspect your parent understands this, and you're not understanding his/her perspective, which is that the general public needs to have a better understanding of how the Internet and monetization works. And that it is problematic to expect almost anything of value from a company you are not paying money to.
They key takeaway in the comment is something everyone needs to understand:
>You've made the decision to let a business deep into your personal life, a space once reserved only for loved ones. These are the consequences.
Yes, the tweeter may be able to influence the company's decision in some minor way, restricted to still births. And it will solve only one small problem. You'll still get plenty of these problematic ads in bad circumstances.
Company X spends Y months advertising baby items to you, then at month Z- due to no fault of your own- a still birth occurs. Company X continues to advertise baby items for A time frame until the algo realizes you are not interested. Unless there's a market for people advertising for services/products for still births- they need better adwords- then there's no loss to the company being paid for the advertisement.
Although extremely sad and very common- not so much so in a 1st world country- company x has no reason to stop. It's the advertisers who are "at fault" and even then, who are they to care about someone else's feelings? Maybe people using these 'free' services need to utilize better coping skills.
And if they get the attention of the company, the company may change its behaviors.
Whether out of sympathy or self-interest is kind of immaterial.
As users, we'd like the companies to change their behavior.
Companies rely on users' good will. Once they depend on users for revenue, they need to act to a certain degree as though they care about those users. Or users may leave. These are the consequences.
Wow, of course they do.
> The odds of any one person having an attention span long enough to hold a grudge
So... that's why people draw attention to issues like this. To try to organize users just enough to encourage a company to change its behavior.
Or, failing that, to get government to lean on companies to get them to change their behavior.
> I prefer this explanation, because you can see that it meshes very well with what happens in practice.
Companies have been successfully boycotted before. Advertisers leave when consumers get mad enough. Maybe not all of them. But at some point, the platform does actually make some changes, sometimes.
Why? Why they don't care? Is it technically impossible or what? You know, they can try to care and try to become a friend, maybe ads would work better in that case? How do you think?
What you are doing in your comment is just stating facts that are known for everyone already. For what reason you are doing it? What are you trying to achieve? Are you showing us how cynical you are, that you've grown enough to get lost your naivety completely? It is the case, or there are some other reasons behind your message?
I can say what Gillian is trying to achieve and I believe she is succeding: she will make system more human centered, more friendly to humans. I can understand her, but I cannot understand you.
You are exactly the person I'm trying to influence by reminding you that these systems care about revenue, not you or your well being.
These facts may be well known, but you are certainly not considering them when choosing your language. You are letting an amoral entity into your very personal life for dubious reasons and expecting it do be "friendly to humans," when they are designed to be friendly to shareholders wallets. It will be exactly as "friendly" as it needs to be, no more. And, if shareholders decide the cost of being friendly is greater than the benefit, then the "friendly" feature will be turned off.
There are no need to remind me that. I know it. But I know some more. These systems are part of more complex systems of society and of humanity in a whole, these systems are adaptive and reflective. All of them are adaptive, as a small so a large ones. They probably would not change just because some women told they should, but such a system will change itself if there are prospects of greater earnings or treats of losses. PR is important thing that influences earnings and losses, so it is improbable for them just ignore that women. It is less improbable for them to ignore all other similar cases and to react just for stillborn, but I the worst scenario they would need a few more open letters, and then they'll search for all cases like that preemptively, not waiting for an open letter.
Look at Google, it learned to pay attention to AI biases preemptively. Yes, we can argue that google doesn't respect anything except money, but it would be arguing about hidden states of such a system as a google. At the same time "to pay attention to AI biases" is behaviour which you can observe. Shouldn't we prefer to speak about observable phenomena, not about some hidden ones?
> These facts may be well known, but you are certainly not considering them when choosing your language. You are letting an amoral entity into your very personal life for dubious reasons and expecting it do be "friendly to humans,"...
Please, stop making ungrounded assumptions about me. I'm using adblockers aggressively and see no ads. If some ads slip through my defences, I go into troubles to create custom filters to block them nevertheless. I'm blocking even more then just ads, annoying gifs for example (hate them for moving and disturbing my attention). I clear my cookies immediately after tab closes. I'm not using proxies or VPN, but I'm behind NAT and, I believe, there are at least few hundreds others with whom I share IP. Moreover this IP changes time to time. I use ~5 browser profiles with different sets of addons. I'm paranoid about tracking and any ad I can see makes me nervous. So I beg you, do not try to diagnose me by the singled fact I used word "friend" while speaking about advertising company.
And yes, I'm not considering my language, because I just do not look at reality through lens of morality. Morality is not a some kind of shiny fundamental law, morality is a dirty tool in hands of society. Or in hands of some groups. It is really dirty disgusting tool, each time you hear word "morality" you should be alert, the most common reason to speak about morality is to convince others that something amoral is moral, that black is white. So I do not think about morality at all, and when I'm speaking about someone I'm speaking about behaviour, or about hidden reason that leads to observed behaviour. When I'm speaking about "good" or "evil" I always point for whom it is good and for whom it is evil, because there are not abstract "good" or "evil", it is always dependant on point of view. And this case is not an exception. And yes, "friendly" doesn't mean "moral" for me, though it doesn't mean "immoral" too.
> It will be exactly as "friendly" as it needs to be, no more. And, if shareholders decide the cost of being friendly is greater than the benefit, then the "friendly" feature will be turned off.
It is precisely what I meant when I spoke about corporation trying to be friendly. I just omitted the obvious part about money.
Then we're done here.
Any marginal increase in human friendliness this may cause is negligible because advertising in general is a inherently "thing" oriented industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
It is at odds with human satisfaction and survival.
I am reminded of an MLK quote:
"We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered".
Advertising is the driving force behind the current state of insatiable materialism/consumerism that is leading to the destruction our ecosystem.
With all that being said, "advertising" can indeed be used for "good", human oriented goals, but as it stands it's mostly being used for exploitation.
For the HN crowd, yes. For the general public: Still no. In my experience, most people do not understand this. A lot of people, particularly young people, think that they are entitled to free services like email, instant messaging, and pretty much any service an ad-driven company provides (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc).
>I can understand her, but I cannot understand you.
Read the last line of his comment. (S)he is trying to say that there are negative consequences to revealing so much about yourself to strangers.
It might not be a fair comparison, but I feel like this argument is the equivalent to smoking for 40 years without realizing that it causes cancer because the hypothetical tobacco companies didn't have to disclose that information. When you go to the doctor and the doctor blames you for your failing health, is that fair for the doctor to do? You did something that was enjoyable and seemed novel without understanding the cost to your health.
Informed consent in social media is still laughable in 2018, and we don't really discuss that aspect of the issue enough IMO.
The woman's situation is a use case with an ROI attached to it. It's a PBI for Twitter.
Elsewhere in this thread there's a transgender individual. Their use case is another PBI.
The transgender person's use case will be solved first because the transgender community represents more advertising dollars than a grieving mother.
OK, but...the thing is, that's not actually true, however much their less ethical executives might prefer it to be.
They don't, for instance, collect data on what games I play on my iPhone, because that information is not available to them. But while I have enough technical knowledge to understand that they don't have access to that, a) not everyone does, b) while it's true on iPhones, I don't know if it's true on Android—and there may be different answers for "can Facebook track that on Android" and "can Google track that on Android", and c) there are probably things they can do that, despite my relatively good understanding of the subject, I'm either unclear on or at least suspect they can't do.
Similarly, there are many things they don't do with it, because they can't, due either to technical or legal restrictions, or because it's just not profitable. But I'm much less clear on what these things are, and I would very much like to know.
Of course, they don't want us to know either of these things. Right now, most people generally fall into one of two categories: those who, like you, have just thrown up their hands and said, "They collect everything, and there's nothing we can do about it!", and those who don't really know/understand much of anything about it.
Being forced to be clear and open about what data they collect and how they use it would draw attention to it, and make it possible for people who don't want to live like digital doomsday preppers in bunkers to take some reasonable precautions to safeguard their data. It might also get (more) people to say, "Hey, the way you're doing that is wrong, and we should make laws to make that illegal."
I'm not throwing up my hands, I'm here saying: consider the things you're letting into your life and their motivations. There are plenty of things we can do about it. Not share every single detail about ourselves on social media being a good start.
This isn't private data we're talking about with the authors post. It's data she made very public, by choice.
Did they notice the posts she made and the behaviour she exhibited after she lost her baby? Did their algorithms capture it in any way, and they just aren't tuned to do anything about it because it's unprofitable?
Or are their algorithms dumber and less all-consuming than we give them credit for?
The whole point is we don't know, and we really, really should.
How do you mean? Advertisers can tell exactly how well these algorithms work, they see how much they spend and what they get in return.
It's not necessarily a significant problem if your ad is only relevant to 1% of the people who see it, as long as it's profitable.
1) Did they successfully determine that she had a stillbirth/miscarriage?
2) If so, did they use that information to improve their ads?
The answer to 2 is clearly "no". Thus, the remaining question is not whether they found it profitable to use the information, but whether they were able to gather it in the first place. Particularly given NorthOf33rd's claim that they're gathering "everything."
they would like to reconstruct that information from what they've got, if they could, and they'd probably be more successful than most people would believe if you gave them a zeroth order explanation of "they can't get data outside of their app".
> Advertising algorithms are amoral tools put into this world by amoral entities.
Are you saying that social media companies aren't subject to moral and ethical scrutiny? I'm really confused by this statement.
If I posted this point to her twitter feed, I would soften the language. But I would do my best not to change my point.
I would soften the language because I have a moral imperative- unlike twitter and instagram.
1. Just because a thing isn't a person, doesn't mean it can't/shouldn't be decent.
2. That thing was designed by humans which, inferring from your post, you can ask to be decent, ergo you can ask their thing to also be decent.
3. It would make a lot more sense for the business to care in the long term, rather than the short term, that's where maximum profit is.
4. I highly doubt she actively made "the decision to let a business deep into her personal life" since most of these services are opt-in by default.
There's really no need to be so narrow-minded and out of touch with reality...
Nice victim blaming there, let's hold individuals responsible for the bad experiences they have with the vast data collection and ad targeting infrastructure they're virtually forced to interact with. If only they had been studying the blade instead.
> If only they had been studying the blade instead.
> You're not sharing your information with a human. You're sharing it with a business who is tuned to maximize profit. The ROI on dealing with still births for advertising is probably negative.
Considering only the profit aspect (because the ethics, social responsibility, and public opinion aspects have already been addressed elsewhere in this thread and on twitter):
Surely it's a better ROI to have a user than to lose a user. Hence, it makes more sense for e.g. "stillborn" be a trigger word that stops/blocks pregnancy-related ads for X time than for the user to be so brokenhearted by the platform itself that they leave.
Surely it's a better ROI to show relevant ads than offending ads. Hence, it makes more sense to show e-counseling ads to grieving eyes than to show them tragedy-reminder ads.
Honestly, this seems like a no-brainer from any perspective.
Only iff you can be confident that the occurrence of this trigger word means that a person indeed experienced stillbirth, and wasn't just researching this, reading up on it because of fear, a non-native speaker looking up the definition of the word, etc. Metrics like this are really only weakly correlated with what (you'd think) they're trying to determine. Even targeted advertising is essentially a shotgun approach, as we don't even know what actually makes a person click on an ad.
Also: as long as (probability of losing an user X their expected lifetime value) is lower than (probability of ad hitting a gullible person X money got from the ad), it's more profitable to just display the ad. People all over the thread seem to think that it's only about losing vs. not losing a user. But there's opportunity cost to not losing a user, and frequently it's judged not worth it.
(It's good the author is raising a stink over this, it shifts the ROI calculations a little bit towards being more humane.)
As the original tweet pointed out, if there are only searches for "stillborn" and "baby not moving", followed by days of silence (especially with no "vacation" trigger), then an algorithm should be able to figure it out. Especially if friends and family are all commenting with crying emoji and the user has said pregnancy adds "aren't relevant to me".
But of course, I haven't created a multi-billion dollar social network, while Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg have, so I clearly don't understand how to maximize advertising ROI.
It's true here for social media (in spades), but it's true with Amazon (sorting through all the junky products, never knowing if something is genuine), Netflix (all the junky content, barely curated), and many of the others as well.
I think ultimately we will (re) learn that constant naive appeals to the lowest common denominator, while a fast way to make a buck, might not be the best long-term strategy.
People will still use Twitter, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Amazon, etc. because they provide enough convenience and positive experiences that outweigh the perceived negatives.
I mean people know about the negatives of companies that use sweat shops, child labour, or who employ people in horrific working conditions, and yet these corporations are still very much the giants in their field.
You have companies who source ingredients from companies that don't have great living conditions for livestock, and they're still in business.
The tech giants will remain tech giants because as much as people will complain about it, they won't abstain. They won't stop using their phones, their websites, their apps, their search engines, their e-mail... because it's all too hard to give up.
That's one reason why they like network effects so much. It's one of the ways to turn an "addiction" into actual necessity, by creating a coordination problem. You can easily ditch Instagram or Facebook up to the point when it would suddenly seriously handicap your social life. You could still do it if all your friends agreed to switch to something else at the same time, but those friends have friends too, and good luck coordinating all that.
There are other ways to turn a choice into a necessity. In the western world, if you don't want or can't afford an iPhone, you generally can't ditch your Android phone, because there's nothing else available. And you can't just stop using smartphones either, as that makes functioning in the modern society much more difficult.
These companies wouldn't be doing it if it wasn't working.
I had a huge realization about this when one day, I counted up how many distinct people I ever interacted with in meatspace, however briefly (say, by saying "hello", or even noticing their existence and thinking about them). I've added that up to _maybe_ 10 000 people. Which amounts to 1% of the population of my home town.
It's less surprising to see the market (or politics) producing weird outcomes if you realize that your direct experience isn't even giving you a good statistical sample of the population.
That's the best case. The worst case is we've broken our attention spans and ability to interact without heavily optimized feel-good hits and get to keep both pieces. At least in politics we seem to have gone quite far down that path and I don't yet see a way out of re-learning proper discussion methods. Bright ideas are definitely needed here.
Then I read some of the comments here and on other sites. To put it bluntly, I don't understand the tone of entitlement people have when they demand FB/Twitter/etc fix their individual problems. I mean, I obviously understand it - such services are very popular and play a big part of peoples' social circles and lives. What I don't understand is why they think they have a right to demand that a platform they aren't even paying for should cater to them.
If everyone who disagreed with Facebook's revenue model were to leave Facebook, another platform would inevitably pop up that would cater to that new market niche. This seems to be the most fair solution to all parties, but instead it seems like people demand that someone compel FB to change based on their wants. I disagree with this not onlt because it's immoral and unfair, but also because it just means that those future FB competitors will have all sorts of obscure and unique regulatory hoops to jump through.
Am I the only one who thinks this way?
I think the OP is begging for consideration.
As a user, we have every right to state our opinions.
It's not "immoral" or "unfair" to say, "You're making money off of me, I'd really like you to change your behavior."
I don't know why or how you jumped all the way to "regulatory hoops."
Have you seen people advocating laws in this discussion? I haven't.
Some advertisers have bought the right to display their ads to people the platform has probably identified as “women having babies soon”.
Does the OP want consideration from the platform or the advertisers?
I feel the OP is venting the feeling that they’ve had a huge personal tragedy yet the world has just kept on going like nothing happened.
If the platform saw this and were horrified, I bet advertisers would appreciate or at least not mind, if they fixed situations like this.
If you and I saw this and were horrified, we might amplify her voice.
It's not calling for a ban on baby product ads.
It's saying that force-feeding ads on baby products to someone who has lost their child is awful, and it doesn't seem like a big stretch to let a user say, "I don't have a baby!" in a way that tech companies / advertisers can use, to be more sensitive.
Individual problems caused by the platform. If something or someone is causing a problem for me one method to rectify it is to simply ask them to help. It's a pretty standard thing in society.
> What I don't understand is why they think they have a right to demand that a platform they aren't even paying for should cater to them.
For the most part, they do have a right to demand the platform do whatever they want. And depending upon the request, the platform has the right to say "no" to those. The users then have the right to continue using the platform or not.
I'd go further, as someone who makes products used by people I'd be thrilled if a user shared their experience with my product in such a fashion! Even if the experience is bad, at least I'd know about and have the chance to fix it. Worst case is people having bad experiences with my product and me being clueless.
I understand that in this case this particular issue is probably known and ignored, but still, inferring "entitlement" from people who share feedback seems like a step in the wrong direction.
Because those platforms consistently and repeatedly lie to their users: they claim that they are here to serve you, or to help connect you, or help you find things you love.
If all you ever hear is "we're here to help you!", is it any wonder people expect help with their issues?
Maybe if they changed their tagline to something like "Facebook: Here to sell you to advertisers" then people's expectations would be different.
They're providing content that they're not even being paid for. Stop assuming that the person who own the hardware is automatically the rightful owner of the ecosystem there. Property relations are imaginary and arbitrary and can be rewritten.
To see this a little more clearly, if a military deployed autonomous killer robots that kept accidentally killing civilian children, would you then argue the military isn't responsible?
No one (afaik) is saying Facebook should be boycotted or punished over this issue specifically, so intent is irrelevant. A woman was offended—unintentionally—and is expressing her feelings, in the hope the companies will make an intentional change.
I recently bought a shaving kit for my future brother-in-law for Christmas, I looked up some reviews on Google and Youtube and now every Youtube video and ad is regarding this particular shaving product. This product is now following me on the web, if I were able to simply tell my 'digital agent' "hey, I'm not interested in shaving products anymore" and have my agent then broadcast this message to Youtube, Instagram, etc. I think that'd be helpful.
"This one is funny, and has a couple of obvious solutions that have been prevented due to internal politics. The short answer is that they have a couple of different recommender systems, all competing against each other internally for sales lift.
One is purely based off of pageviews. When you get recommendations for something you already bought, many times it is because you looked at it, but they don't know nor care if you already bought it. In their words, it works really well and accounting for sales brings in a lot of needless complexity.
Another is based off of sales. They also don't care if you already bought it because according to them, it works well. I remember trying to point out to them that for some types of products (specifically consumable products) this would work really well, but durables not so much. They claimed otherwise, that although they couldn't explain it, it was entirely common for people to rebuy things like vacuum cleaners and TVs and kitchen knives. I did a tiny bit of research to show them why they thought that, and proved with a small segment (vacuum cleaners, I believe), that after you filter for returns and replacements, that the probability of sequentially buying two of the same vacuum cleaner was effectively zero. They asked me to do it for the rest of their products, but I didn't have limitless time to spend on helping another team, especially one with a PM who was a complete dick to me for having the audacity to make a suggestion that he hadn't thought of.
In all, I believe there are a dozen or so recommender services, each with their own widget. There are tons of people that think all of the recommenders have merits in some areas and drawbacks in others, and the customer would be better off if they merged concepts into a single recommender system. But they all compete for sales lift, they all think their system is better than the other systems, and they refuse to merge concepts or incorporate outside ideas because they all believe they are fundamentally superior to the other recommenders. Just a small anecdotal glimpse at the hilariously counterproductive internal politics at Amazon."
But aren't the returns segment significant? "I bought this vacuum cleaner, returned it because it didn't suck (!); oh and look, this advert said this one has the best suction."?
Also, it seems common amongst some sectors to rebuy: like parents might buy a coat, find it's good, rebuy for the other children. Landlords might update their properties, rebuying items that work well and are robust enough, etc..
this is amazon's answer when an employee asks about work culture. it's working for now but the wheels seem to be falling off as the months pass by
Discover Weekly is a brand new playlist of new music that you haven't listened to before.
They have their Daily Mixes which seem to be based on music you listen to regularly, with a few new, but similar, things mixed in.
I have found that it generally recommends the same type of music, so I can feel a little stuck in a few genres, but they just gave me a playlist of new music that's outside the genres I normally listen to.
I've been very happy with Spotify and their music discovery is a reason I don't see myself switching to Apple Music or similar anytime soon.
The ad networks don't care. They're just serving ads paid for by a bidder who very much has decided that you're the target audience. They win when the bidder keeps bidding for your attention.
The bidder, meanwhile, probably has some very good numbers delivered to them quarterly from their ad agency showing that there is a very strong correlation between how they are targeting their ads, and actual purchase intent, and low and behold, purchases! When the ad is delivered relative to your purchase is an afterthought, or perhaps, just not worth paying their adtech people to fix. (After all, adtech engineers are expensive, and whatever they're doing seems to be working, so why change?)
And, the agency who set up the campaign doesn't have any problem cashing the checks for their successful work.
I'm not saying it's not broken, I'm saying the incentive structure currently is not set up in a way that will ever change it.
patio11 has a great tweetstream on this issue.
Or I bought socks. "Oh, they must have forgotten they actually wanted 12 pairs, not 8". Ok, remind me in a few months, I might be ready to buy again, but not right after the purchase.
If I were going to buy two hammers, I’d have put “2” in the basket in the first place. That’s the more likely scenario. I mean they are not operating blind in a vacuum. They know what I just bought. We’re not trying to guess against an unknown person with unknown purchasing history.
It's on the shopders of the ad creator to set that up though. I did read a comment one time that said the companies might be doing it on purpose, to "reaffirm" you made the right choice going with their product. Not sure how true that is, but it might factor in.
And if that is really the case, then I'd argue it's on ad networks like Google and Facebook to find a way to realign incentives here so that what works best or makes the most money isn't annoying to the user (similar to how they are attempting to ban overly obnoxious ads).
For everyone 1 person annoyed by seeing an ad for a product they bought, 10 others buy.
So I say to you all: go and google some random shit and do some deep dives into it. Be predictably unpredictable.
I have simpler option: don't use social media, use DDG, uBlock and pay for products you use.
Here you go!
Google actually banned this from the Chrome store so it must be hurting them.
I'm not making money off of it, nor does anyone I know or have a business relationship with stand to benefit from it.
I'm merely authorizing an application to use my local system to access unsolicited hyperlinks provided to me by a third party while viewing another party's Web site.
Or if the answer is technological: How come we accept the tyranny of advertisers on our most personal devices? Pi-Hole is a nice gimmick for those who can use it. If we can't bring the choice not to watch advertisements to the masses, we have essentially failed.
Asking companies to change their algorithms is quite honestly petty. And for some reason this has rubbed me the wrong way, gives out an attention seeking vibe. Just my two cents.
On the side of the user: because we don't like paying for services with money.
On the side of the company: hockey stick growth gets big pay outs, growth can happen much quicker if you give a service away and pay with advertiser.
This alone deserves a entire novel to be answered properly but in short: it reaches out to social, political and economical reasons. As I programmer I so wish the problems to be only technological but alas, they are not.
1. Most people view anything they don't understand and/or are not good at as magic that "is simply there and works this way". Most non-technical people I knew in my life -- not a small number, has to be north of 300 -- simply had no idea you could block ads. And something like the Pi-Hole they would never imagine even being possible. It'd be a spy movie tech for them.
2. Possibly controversial anecdotal observation of mine during my whole life: most normal folk are very maleable and accepting for the realities around them. Many of my peers call them "sheep" or other derogatory terms and even though on rare occasions I am pissed enough to agree with them, I still understand and realize that people have jobs and lives to deal with and they don't want to go out of their way to try and make a difference in the world. I used to be mad at that but nowadays, with me having suffered years of depression and burnout, I understand that regular folk all too well...
3. Related to the above: not many want to change society at large. As much as it boggled my mind, I actually heard a chunk of the people I met agreeing to have ads served to them. At certain point you have to wonder would you be the hero of the story that aims to bring down tech giants that harvest personal data, or the villain? I know I would view myself as the hero for sure but you gotta wonder sometimes.
As an even more controversial aside, IMO the current breed of capitalism is ruthless and tries to fill every minute of people's leisure time with a ton of activities -- like doing taxes in huge convoluted procedures, poking you with notifications on your phone to hatch virtual eggs quicker with the diamond currency of your mobile game of choice or whatever, Facebook et al never leaving you alone about somebody posting something, and lots and lots of others.
What I am trying to say is that most people I see around me are way too tired and broken to NOT accept tyranny.
It’s a suffering person, yes, but would I rather have Instagram that you can opt in to and receive targeted ads in exchange for its feature set than no Instagram? Yes. And I believe if we allowed people to make the free choice, they would too.
This is about the equivalent of going to a high school reunion and having people talk about their kids soon after you had a miscarriage. It’s horrible to have that happen but it’s an honest mistake.
Jumping on the “targeted advertising is evil” wagon just means we fail to solve it another more-likely way: like how you’d imply to your old classmates in that situation that you find it painful to hear about the topic right then.
“Jeff, one day you’ll understand that it’s harder to be kind than clever.”
It really had an impact on me.
She starts by admitting that she voluntarily signaled to these platforms that she was pregnant. They are ad platforms. She then goes on to admit that she continued to go back on the platforms after and then blames them for showing ads she herself engaged with at one point!
I don’t think anyone would ever wish someone grieving to be reminded of the source of the grief or say “too bad.” But I think a reasonable person could conclude this is a little unreasonable.
She basically said, "I know your algorithms can detect that I was pregnant. Can't your algorithms detect that my baby is no longer alive?" That seems like a pretty fair statement.
How about this- if you are uncomfortable with the prospect of ads potentially shown to you that may upset you based on recent history that’s now changed, lay off the platform for a while.
People who are on social media appear to be deluding themselves into believing that social media can offer some sort of support and minimize the pain, but this is probably the biggest misconception about which we can convince the public otherwise.
Maybe a fair statement, but a fundamental misunderstanding of how ad targeting works.
It's a bit much to say "ads she herself engaged with at one point" -- Facebook and email marketers serve you a lot of ads for companies and sites you may never have engaged with directly.
It's terrible what happened to her and her family, but this post basically reads "I put my foot in a fire. Fire, why did you burn my foot?"
Yes, she shouldn't have posted about her pregnancy on social media sites.
*Edit to add - There are a lot of other ways to share with friends and family about her pregnancy that aren't social media.
Frankly, if you are an advertiser and know your ads are being served to someone who, through tragedy, cannot use your product and instead are now part of a thousand cuts treatment, you should be pretty offended yourself.
How, exactly, are they supposed to know that? The bigger issue here is everyone expecting Facebook to somehow be omnipotent. They're not. They are a sharing platform that makes money by selling targeted ads. They're not all knowing.
Because situations have more than one possible outcome. Lumping everyone into a single cohort based on a majority rule (e.g. people who buy pregnancy-related products often buy baby-related products later) is a kind of insensitivity that would be frowned on if applied in person.
> The bigger issue here is everyone expecting Facebook to somehow be omnipotent.
I'd argue that Facebook (or its advertising algorithm in this case) is operating _as if it is_ omniscient when really there are lots of shortcomings that can and do cause harm. It should be reigned in instead of forgiven.
It just happens infrequently enough that they haven't had to care about it. Yet.
> Or maybe, just maybe, not at all.
As "please don't".
Never going to happen, they say marketers ruin everything for a reason.
I switched interest based ads off on Google a few times, and also tried using YouTube while logged out. It’s pure trash.
When you opt out of interest based ads you actually opt in to their inventory of worst content imaginable. There’s no middle ground.