What Do Targeted Facebook Ads Say About Me?

“VACCINATE YOUR BABY!” Really, Facebook? I’m a 19 year old college student, and you’re already all up in my grill[1] [2], about having babies like an obsessive Jewish mother who’s dreamed about nothing more than having even more family members to nag[3].

It’s not just this one ad, though; either Facebook’s targeted advertisements are a wee bit off, or I’m weirder than Pee-wee Herman on ecstasy, and although I did once have my bike stolen by my arch nemesis Francis, I haven’t been buffing the banana in any adult theatres any time recently[4].  Recently, I’ve been taking stock of some of the ads that Facebook thinks I’ll respond to, and although some of them are understandable, such as ads for Blackberry, or even accurate, like ads for comedians or for The Big Bang Theory T-Shirts, others are just completely ridiculous, such as an ad for the “Cactus and Succulent Society of America,” which is surprisingly, the “ONLY national Non-Profit Organization devoted to the horticultural hobby of growing cactus and other succulents.” Who would’ve guessed there wouldn’t be more than one national organization devoted solely to growing fat plants with a penchant for water conservation?[5]

Often I just find myself wondering “Who the Hell actually clicks on an ad asking: ‘IS MILEY CYRUS TOO SEXY?’” but then I stumbled upon an even better question: “Why do they think I would?” I mean, I know I’ve taken some promiscuous Facebook quizzes, such as “What is your Inner-Sexual Personality?[6], “Is Your Boyfriend Already Married?”[7], and “Which Disney Princess are You?”[8], and I may or may not “like” seventeen different Miley Cyrus pages, but “TOO SEXY?!?” Come on. Impossible. (I clicked it).

Sometimes I do feel like it knows my innermost secrets, however, when it suggests that I join groups like: “Pokémon Enthusiasts – a close knit group of Pokémon enthusiasts showing off and discussing their latest Pokémon related purchases” or when it asks me: “Like the Tea Party?” because when I see ads like that, I wonder how they know that I voted for Sharron Angle for the Nevada Senate,[9] or about that life-size plush Squirtle that I just bought on Craig’s List from that friendly, balding middle-age man clad in nothing but a bath robe?

The worst ones, though, are the ones that, at first, look like they might actually be relevant to you, such as: “Hey! Can’t Fall A Sleep?” in response to which I literally yelled at my laptop screen “Oh my God Facebook, you know me SO WELL!” as I’m sitting at my desk at 5:30 in the morning, too tired to even notice that somebody actually thinks that “asleep” is two different words. But then, all of a sudden, all of my dreams are crushed as I read the subtitle “chat with over 300,000 girls, live!” and think to myself “aww… I’m barely not-awkward enough to talk to one girl… let alone 300,000 of them… oh well, back to Facebook-stalking…”[10]

Fortunately, though, the opposite can happen too when at first you think it’s completely irrelevant to you but then you realize that you could actually make use of something like that. For me, this happened when I saw: “Never Shave Your Legs Again!” because, naturally, I asked myself “Why would I ever shave my legs? There isn’t any hair on them!” But then I read the subtitle “Free laser hair removal” and realized that laser hair removal doesn’t necessarily have to be for your legs! Click!

Occasionally I’m actually kind of offended[11] by Facebook ads I get, and no, not by the ones that keep telling me to get a nursing degree from the Chamberlain College of Nursing, but rather the ones that are advertising Mercer County Community College. Come on, Facebook, that’s just downright offensive, I mean, I’m not failing all of my classes… But what’s even worse is the assumption that’s being made when I get the ad with the headline: “J.P. Morgan’s Career Event for LGBT Students” because although, yeah, I wear a SHARE “Consent is Sexy!” bracelet thing, and, yes, I have an ALLY sign outside my door, but I really don’t think they have the right to assume that I want to be a soulless[12] investment banker! That’s just downright distasteful.

Now for the last type of ads: the ones that simply don’t make sense. For example: “Operation Christmas Child.” What?!? That sounds like a government mission to abduct children on Christmas, dress them up as Iranian insurgents, and have them sneak into whatever they call the Iranian equivalent of the White House, and torture Mahmoud Ahmadinedoesn’tbelieveintheHolocaustijad until he admits that Santa is real. One that made even less sense, however, ran with the headline: “Seeds of Blessing” and the caption “Our consultants empower women all over the world. Become part of something amazing, visit our video tab, hear Jan’s story, and join us!” Now to me, this made even less sense than the last one, so naturally I clicked the link to find out more about what seemed to be some sort of crazy fertility cult, which ultimately shed some light on the situation, as I discovered that they organize Seeds of Blessing parties (overflowing with Kool-Aid, I’m sure) and sell “Blessing Baskets” more or less woven by Starvin’ Marvin. Oh, and they’re looking for people to, “for a very low cost… become entrepreneurs and own their own business.” Essentially, it’s a pyramid scheme posing as an NPO – classy.

So, to summarize, if everything that Facebook thinks about me is true, then I’m an LGBT cactus-farming, leg-shaving, Tea Party supporting, economics major slash Pokémon Master, failing all my classes because I spend all of my time drooling over Miley Cyrus. I would include a visual aid for this, but I can’t draw, which Facebook obviously doesn’t know considering they keep giving me ads for the Art Institute School in New York.  So let your imaginations wander, and, please, as you try to picture this scene, let me be shirtless.

It’s quite flattering with the shaved legs.

-Alex Judge

[1] Yes, I just said that

[2] Yes, I’m very white

[3] It’s okay, I’m wearing a Yarmulke… actually…

[4] Or at least not in Sarasota…

[5] Fat plants: actually a technical term

[6] Closet Freak

[7] Thank God… it said no…

[8] Snow White

[9] How can you not vote for somebody who can’t tell the difference between Latinos and Asians?

[10] I could probably talk to two if I really wanted to…

[11] I don’t really get offended by things, but I like to pretend to be.

[12] Sorry, Mom…

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