Fact-checking and Labeling the Ads that Facebook Feeds Me

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Publication date:

March 14, 2022

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Dear Facebook,

May I ask you a few questions? As masters of the megaverse, you ought to be able to give me answers to some of my questions. You are not going to throw the Facebook at me for being curious and inquisitive, are you? To be honest, I am a bit annoyed about what you are doing to me as well. We were getting along so well, but you have started to invade my space with someone else’s privacy. Are you aware of that?

Could you please fix your ad feeds? I am not particularly keen on receiving any ads to begin with, but if you are inclined to bombard me with them, at least make sure they are somewhat relevant. None of the ads I get – about every 4th post in my feeds – are relevant to me. They advertise things I neither use nor need. I have been telling you for months, but you keep on insisting. When I manually label the ads as irrelevant, your artillery barrage stops for a while, but is soon back in action. After a day or so, the irrelevant ads are back! Clearly, learning is not your strength.

         Underdog Studio, metro maps of UK cities and towns 

         Satire Page

Are you just carpet-bombing your users with random ads? I doubt it, as you would not be able to demand top dollar for the ads if you just fired away randomly. Furthermore, there is a pattern in the artillery fire I am sustaining. Hence, some thought went into what ads to expose me to. Let me be clear: whoever does the thinking should spend  some time learning about me and who I really am.

Are you doing this to amuse me? You never came across as having a sense of humour; it would be a major improvement if you did. I must admit that some of the ads you are feeding me are quite funny. In fact, some are hilarious. You might not get it, though. To see the funny side in them, you need to know me. That, your ad feed algorithm clearly has not mastered yet.

Did you ever check my profile on your platform? If you did, you might get a better picture of me, and immediately realize that the ads you feed me are not relevant. You no doubt have users who use fake profiles and identities, but I am not one of them. My Facebook profile is exactly who I am. Because the ad feeds show a pattern (which led to some amusing discoveries), you are aiming for someone, but that someone is just not me. How is it even possible to confuse me with someone else? Are you guys taking something?

          Hopkins Homes, Cambridgeshire real estate with easy commute to London

          Satire Page

What footprints are you tracking to arrive at my door? Are you sure these are mine? I have a size 43 and almost always wear Nike sneakers. If you want, I can make a plaster cast of my left foot print and send it to you. I can post it in a video with my family members vouching for it being my footprint. This way you could check whether the tracks you are following are indeed left by me.

Are you charging anyone for the ads I see? I sure hope not, but I have some doubt. The persistence with which you keep firing them at me makes me believe that you have a good incentive to keep doing so. I doubt that an Indian restaurant in Cambridge (UK) will deliver pappadam to me in Shanghai (China). I have not tried to order though, and perhaps I am overestimating the logistic challenges in the post-Brexit pandemic world.

How good is your feed algorithm anyway? I am sure that you are very proud of your feed algorithm and vouch for it (at least to those who foot your bill). I am of course only a sample of size one but I can tell you that your algorithm is off by many miles. Well, the fact that your algorithm is adamant that I live in the Uk when in fact I live in Shanghai, that puts the miscalculation at just over 5000 miles. Not a small error, except if you only count in the billions that measure your user base.

           HillView Prints, by Etsy UK

           Satire Page

When I repeatedly tell you that the ads are irrelevant, why don’t you ask me why that is so? My mom always told me that if something was not clear or I missed something, to should just ask my teacher. No harm in asking. Why are you adverse to that? You do ask periodically how I like your service and your privacy policy, and I bite on my tongue and give you answers.

In your all-out AI mindset, is human input considered suspect? Putting the ads together, I have been able to piece together who you think I am, and I know exactly what you algorithm is doing and why. Trust me, some of your users are smart (sorry to brag a bit). I could easily and quickly explain where your algorithm is making a catastrophic mistake. Are you afraid to admit you make mistakes?

Do you care if any of your users get shot at with ammunition destined for someone else? No, I am not a drag queen and have no conscious ambition to go down that path. Are you reading my subconscious and know things about me that I myself am not even aware of yet? I hear you know a lot about your users, and I am curious and willing to learn. Can you please fill me in on myself?

          Match Hairdressing Cambridge, in the heart of Cambridge 

          Satire Page

Who’s getting my ads? You must have cool ads that would be relevant for me. After all, that is where the money for you is. Who gets to see these ads? What am I (and those paying for them) being deprived of?

Do you care how I feel? I know you have many users all around the world, and it must be difficult to keep them all happy. I do not want any trouble with anyone, but how do I get on your radar screen? Should I write to Mark directly to get things straightened out? I worry that if I do that, your algorithm might get upset that I bypass it and go straight to the top. Given the crazy things it is already doing, what else could it come after me with?

            The London Mint Office

             Satire Page

Guess what? I know exactly why your feed algorithm is off. It has a major weakness, and I found it! You clearly haven’t made that discovery yet, and you do not seem to care what is amiss. At least, I should be thankful for you not invading on my privacy. As probably most of your customers do, I never read your privacy policy but from what I see in my feeds convinces me that you do not know me. If you think you got me on target, I will really have to disappoint you.

Do you know why your ads are irrelevant, and I labeled them Satire Page? Do you see the common threads in them? Sniffing around with my magnifying glass and Sherlock Holmes nose, I was able to unmask who you think is me. She was not amused when I told her, especially not since your ad feeds gave me peek under her covers.

             Underdog Studio, UK underground maps

             Satire Page

How many Facebook users like me are there out there? Do you get many questions like mine, or am I just an oddity you can ignore? Given that I know what is leading your feed algorithm astray, I can imagine that there are others who get irrelevant ads. Not good for business, is it? Or is it that you can ignore me because I am sitting behind the digital wall of China where you are banned?

What are you going to make me look like in your metaverse? Please, don’t embarrass me. I do have an existential concern about my virtual being, as you are holding all the (apparently wrong) cards on me.

             Galaxy Chocolate, Galaxychocolate.co.uk

             Satire Page (selling UK chocolate to a Belgian?)

What did I do to deserve this? As you yourself remind me often, we have been friends for many years. Do you no longer want to be my friend? Do you want me to move on without you? Questions deserve answers.

Every time I log on, you ask me what is on my mind. Well, now you know what is.

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