Social media can be entertaining and creepy at the exact same time. Sometimes, if not all the time, your phone is constantly observing you. It observes your conversations and your online searches. Creating the perfect ad that’s targeted you. You might have even noticed this strange phenomenon yourself. However, this couple thought they were going insane when they noticed their Instagram ads looked very similar to their room. In addition to having the exact same bedsheets, designer cabinet, and lighting.
Instagram Ads Can Be Creepy
Ever since the invention of smartphones and the increase in advertising, we have witnessed some of the most surreal ad targeting. People can’t seem to have a conversation anymore without their phones seemingly observing them. You may have seen ads specifically targeted towards you. The data your phone gathers is gathered by multiple companies. Additionally, they can use your online searches, conversations, and even your location. This strange occurrence becomes even creepier for this couple. An author at Vice claims that the Instagram ads they were seeing looked ridiculously similar to their bedroom.
“A few days ago, my girlfriend and I saw an Instagram ad that felt eerily familiar. The image was a bedroom featuring a white designer cabinet, a bed with yellow and white-striped sheets and soft furnishings in shades of beige and light brown. Just like our bedroom. We were paralyzed for a few minutes. I had never come across ad content that hit so close to home before. Was it possible that Instagram was somehow spying on our room?” (1)
However, there are multiple ways for companies to grab your attention. Despite the popular belief that our phones are listening to our conversations. Instagram ads and other websites have been reported for doing the exact same. The French company that posted the ad has virtually everything that the author described. Claiming that this ad was the exact same semblance of his and his girlfriend’s room. At first he thought that maybe he talked about buying another cabinet to complete their set. Maybe he had did some online searching and that’s how they found out. Perhaps their room was just an unoriginal concept or something.
The Internet Hides Nothing
Regardless, this doesn’t excuse the fact that so many people are being spied on through their phones. In today’s society, most people if not all of them have a smart phone. We aren’t given much of a choice when it comes to agreeing to terms of service for our devices. Every time we have to agree to a new one, we don’t really take the time to read the fine print.
“It is frustrating that the burden seems to fall on consumers to protect themselves from intrusions into their daily lives.” explains Maryant Fernández Pérez, the senior digital policy officer at the European consumer organization BEUC. This company is to provide online user’s with information on how they can protect their privacy. (1)
However, the problem isn’t with how people are trying to protect themselves. It’s the tech companies as well as authorities that need to provide assistance. Pérez believes that laws regulating privacy policies at EU level are not being enforced enough.
Protecting Your Information From Ads
There are some ways that you can protect your information from outside forces. You might have already noticed with a recent update, iOS 14, gives you a little more security. You’ll be able to see an orange or green light whenever an app is using your camera or microphone. This can happen even if you don’t have the app currently opened. You can go into your settings and turn off your microphone as well as your camera. However, the truth of the matter is that you shouldn’t even have to do that in the first place.
“Considering the number of scandals and revelations about how [big tech] controls what we do online, it’s no wonder that people expect the worst.” Further explains Fernández Pérez. (1)
We must hold these companies responsible for this invasion of privacy. When we are left with little to no option about our data, it isn’t fair to exploit every single user just for any companies advantage. This data is personal and shouldn’t be traded as if it was some kind of commodity. If we are to progress with this issue, companies need to realize what they are doing. What else is troubling is the amount of misinformation being spread through these companies as well. Targeting susceptible people on the internet and exploiting them for profit is unacceptable.
- “Facebook Said It Wasn’t Listening to Your Conversations. It Was.” Vice. David Gilbert.
- “Amazon and Google are listening to your voice recordings. Here’s what we know about that” CNET. Ry Crist. July 13, 2019.
- “Facebook Misled Journalists About How Bad the Cambridge Analytica Scandal Was.” Vice. David Uberti. July 25, 2019.