I am a conservative Facebook user. My Facebook profile is simple – no work, no family photos, no pictures of friend’s wedding or kids party. All I put on Facebook are photos of great Australian country landscapes, pets, and food.
Oh yes I love my food, I love cooking too. So yes I am one of those Asians you see in restaurants who take photos before touching every dish and post them online. I really enjoyed doing it until one day I found out Facebook thinks I am fat.
Here is the proof. You see every single ad on the side bar is about losing weight. Facebook thinks I have a fat belly and I should go on a weight watcher program.
I was a little bit annoyed. I may or may not have a fat belly but why should I allow Facebook to profile me? This is like you turn on the TV and watched one episode of “Australia’s biggest loser” and then all of sudden every TV ad in every channel asks you to buy a diet program. So I started a small project called “clean my Facebook ads”. I stopped posting any photos related to food but instead I posted about my dogs, cats and chickens. 3 weeks later, only half of the ads have changed into pet food but I still have plenty of fat bellies. Perhaps Facebook believes there is a correlation between people having pets and people who need to lose weight? Or my cats and dogs are not on the slim side so Facebook thinks their pack leader is the same?
I did’t like any of these theories so I was determined to beat the personalization engine behind it. Over the next weeks I tried plenty of other options, fashion, gardening, home decor, travel, books, paintings, but nothing could get me off the hook of weight watcher promotions. One of my girlfriends told me I should try visiting some dating sites, as this is what happened to her that the dating ads are very sticky. I haven’t done it yet as it is like you introduce one devil to beat another devil and also I don’t know how I am going to explain it to my husband when he sees my Facebook page.
“Personalization” is big these days. Thousands of companies are inventing and more companies are busy in implementing some sort of technologies to enable them to understand us more, in the space beyond what their traditional customer master database can provide. They then segment us, profile us, analyse our intent, and personalize the information to show they do understand what we want, and provide us the possibility to buy real time, on the go, before we put the product on our shopping list.
But as a consumer, I wonder if I can choose not to be analysed and profiled. As we casually browse the web, or wander on the high street, or sit at a cafe at the street corner minding our own business, can we put up a virtual sign of “leave me alone” or “do not disturb”? Or if we are being profiled, can we send a letter to tell them “you are wrong. I do not have a fat belly”?
Well I guess I will have to look at these weight watcher recipes for a long long time.
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