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Go to hell, Facebook ads

April 26, 2013

I distinctly remember the commercial that made me switch from the free Pandora to the $36-a-year Pandora One. It was an eBay commercial that started cropping up between songs shortly before Christmas and featured a chorus of frustrated holiday shoppers extolling the auction site’s virtues loudly to the “tune” (given how off-key these actors were, there’s a reason for the quotation marks) of Jingle Bells, a.k.a. the Most Irritating Holiday Song Ever Written. Bad enough this commercial existed at all, but the fact that it repeated every four or five songs, usually when I was trying to drive for an hour or two on wintry mountain roads, made me want to slide my car off a nearby cliff and end the pain.

Similar pains have made me almost wish for a paid version of Facebook Mobile. On my laptop, I installed Adblock Plus, which eliminates the irritation of Facebook ads for shoes and baby gear, two areas those familiar with me will know I have no interest in whatsoever.

But my iPhone is still susceptible. And no matter how many times I clicked the little “X” button to remove an ad from my computer’s Facebook sidebar before I got fed up with the same crap over and over and installed ABP, my distaste for ads featuring high-heeled shoes and oh-so-in-love-couples who met via apparently never translated to the mobile app, so I still get plastered with ads for “adorable” diaper bags (only $299 if you type in a special promo code from Zulily!).

Yes, I know I should be used to advertising stupidity by now. I’ve accepted that in exchange for the free services I get through Google and non-subscription-based websites, I’ve agreed to suffer through ads that I deem personally offensive, even if the majority of the population deems promotions for beauty products to be innocuous enough.

I’ve even accepted that Google is tracking what I type into its search bar and none-too-subtly bringing up ads for ski-area lodging and deals on snow tires based on the sheer frequency of times I’ve looked up snowfall totals and weather reports. Same with the ads for ski passes that occasionally pop up on my state highway department’s mobile app: both advertisers and app gurus know that most people are checking to see what the mountain roads are like because they either want to drive to or from local ski areas, hopefully with minimal traffic snarls.

As a matter of fact, I’m so accustomed to it that it’s the lack of specificity in Facebook ads that grates on me. It’s one thing if a website or app showcases those cursed beauty product ads alongside ones for Florida getaways or banks that don’t even have branches in my state, because then I know that the advertisers are simply casting as wide a net as possible. Hell, as much as that eBay commercial got on my last nerve, I know the intention was simply to cash in on desperate last-minute Christmas shoppers. The fact that there exists a minuscule minority not in that demographic was of little concern to the marketing committee who came up with the (still stupid) idea.

But Facebook ads appear to operate in an odd gray area of targeting demographics rather than individuals. When I was in a relationship and listed as such on my profile, several of the ads I clicked off as being “offensive” were from jewelry stores imploring me to get my boyfriend to put a ring on it. Since I have my gender down as female, I’ve received those aforementioned shoe ads as well as entreaties to play “Sorority Life,” the fact that I have under my “Education” section two universities that have no Greek life apparently notwithstanding. Oh, yeah, and there are the baby ads. Because EVERY woman, especially around my age, thinks babies are the cuuuuutest things and, like, totally wants one of her own!

It’s probably a sad comment that I find myself perfectly fine with seeing sidebar links to Loveland’s season-pass-sales site, sadder still that I’d be willing to accept the consequences of Google incorporating some kind of, “Already bought this, thanks,” button into their links. I know I should be pushing for Facebook to use more wide-net ads to catch as many fish as possible, regardless of age, gender, and sexual orientation.

But since it seems unlikely that Facebook will do that, especially since they are trying to take on Google as THE dominant internet force, I wish they’d go all the way. I wish they’d read through my profile and see that my interests include skiing, hiking, kayaking, etc. and DON’T include shopping, babies, or dating. I hate being lumped into categories based on what straight women my age are supposed to want.

No more half-assing, Facebook. I hereby agree to let you violate my privacy, just so long as you don’t hum “Jingle Bells” while fucking it up the ass. Or at least try to hum it on key and in time to each thrust.


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  1. Because a couple of years ago I ‘liked’ a lesbian author’s page on Facebook, I now get the same ad about safe lesbian vacations every time I log in. Facebook also subtly suggests: easy ways to lose weight fast, a safe train ticket booking app, and go-go dancing courses. If someone were to judge my life based on these ads, they’d probably think I was a fat lesbian go-go dancer who liked to travel to safe lesbian destinations by train.

    But that’s not half as annoying as Amazon suggestions. Because I recently bought a case for my laptop, they spammed me with suggestions for other laptop cases I might like. Because that’s totally what happens when you buy a laptop case. You start thinking of buying a new one.

    I will need to look into getting that Adblock Plus for my laptop. Thankfully, I had no baby ads as of yet, but liking a picture of my friend’s baby has made me slightly concerned.

    • Oh, boy. Ever since you liked that picture, Facebook is going to think you’re a fat, train-loving lesbian go-go dancer (that list made me crack up!) who’s now in the market for IVF. I’d get Adblock Plus before it’s too late!

      I haven’t ordered anything from Amazon since they decided to abandon their warehouse affiliates in Colorado over a proposed state internet sales tax…local pride and all. But I seem to remember that their rationale on suggested purchases didn’t make a hell of a lot of sense, although that was back in the days when their suggestions were in their infancy and could be forgiven for needing to have the quirks ironed out. Seriously, though, why DON’T you want a separate laptop case to match EVERY OUTFIT YOU OWN?!?

      • They should hire you as their marketing rep. I want a laptop case in every colour now. Curses!

      • I’ll petition them to give me a cut of your purchases! Muhuhahaha (wait, why am I laughing? I still have a grudge against Amazon, even after Colorado dropped the internet sales tax)!

  2. All I see all the time on my Facebook is ads for dating websites. I GET IT FACEBOOK, I’VE BEEN SINGLE FOR FIVE YEARS AND YOU DON’T APPROVE. I just wish I could communicate that I don’t give a shit what Facebook thinks I should do.

    • My status isn’t listed as anything, and every time I go in to update my About page, there’s Facebook, encouraging me to add a relationship status. Thanks, guys, but I don’t need YOU nagging me to find a date!

      Does the desktop site still have the option of letting you give a reason why you’re not interested in seeing a particular ad anymore? I remember I used to label ads as “Offensive” willy-nilly, which lack of discrimination might be why those same ads never stopped popping up on my sidebar…

      • I used to do the same, except marking it irrelevant CONSTANTLY. But the option to hate on ads is no longer available, at least not on my computer. Haha maybe they felt like I abused the privilege as well.

      • Awwww! In that case, I’m glad I’ve blocked them from my sight! I used and abused the Offensive option, that’s for sure.

  3. LMAO..enjoyed reading your write..As usual..But isn’t there a far simpler solution to ending the frustration?!? I know , all too well, the fascination with online social sites(like my ever-growing addiction to WordPress, OMG) but I refuse to become a FB’er..I have an account only because I maintain our business account at work…Other than that? I’d rather chat with my real-life friends/family voice to voice or face to face. Trip on that! Have to explain modes of communicating now …yet another topic for another time when time permits. I’m with ya @FB can go straight to HELL. Sorry folks I’m not feeling the FB vibe..FB is all UP in folks business & some folks don’t even know it..

    • I occasionally consider jumping ship. But I find that it’s the easiest way to keep in touch with my East Coast friends whose phone numbers occasionally change on me (and whose numbers sometimes disappear with my phone’s tendency to eat contact information every few months or so), and I do enjoy reading articles people post that are not from one of the websites I frequent. I agree, though. Facebook IS all up in folks’ business, and I have so many issues with it that I could probably create a whole new blog entitled, “Go to hell, Facebook!”

      • Well “when” you write that blog post I’ll read that one also…And I’m sure you’d do an excellent job(as well as get a ton of co-signs on it) Trying to talk you into! Just go for it & do it

      • Awww, thank you! It’s often a matter of finding ways to corral my mental diarrhea…which is a lovely image that totally gives people the right impression of my writing abilities, I’m sure.

      • ^Virtual high five

  4. I got fed up with FB and deleted my account when I noticed every time I posted about having a drink (and it wasn’t that often) I immediately got a sidebar ad for “Alcohol problem?” Fuck you, FB!

    • *Groan* I don’t even know where to start with how fucked up I find that to be. The biggest advertising mismatch I’ve probably received was several years ago, when the Denver Nuggets were playing the Lakers in the playoffs. Being a proud Denver resident, I posted a despairing comment about how badly my boys were doing…only to get an ad suggesting I “like” the Lakers’ Facebook page. If not for Adblock Plus, I probably would have done the same and vengefully deleted my profile forever. Actually, the only reason I don’t is because it’s still the best way to keep in contact with my friends from the East Coast.

      • I have a freaky vegan/organic friend from England and one day it showed up in my news feed (not the ad sidebar, mind you) that she “liked” Best Foods mayo and shared a recipe for mayo crusted chicken. I smelled a rat. I mentioned it to her the next day and she was like, “What’s Best Foods?” being a foreigner and all. It was PURE fabrication. LIES!

      • I used to get all this stuff from my friends who’d “liked” posts and sponsors that seemed completely contradictory to their personalities, too. In fact, I’m pretty sure of the baby stuff came from friends who were similarly childfree and obviously had no children of their own, which made no sense as to why they were then liking posts that offered them 50% off sippy cups (unless they’re into some reeeeeally kinky stuff that I had no idea about). Curse you, Facebook!

  5. Mariette permalink

    Ugh yes! I hate the damn ads too. I get the “Tie him down & make him give you this ring” ads too. Really Facebook that sounds exactly like I’ve been picturing it. The new ones that show up in your newsfeed are the worst. At the beginning I thought they were actually something of my friends and then I realized “oh one of my friends ‘liked’ the Lysol page & so now I’m getting a Lysol ad”. Who the hell likes the Lysol page? WTF.

    • I’ve been getting that one on my phone, too. Then again, the person who purportedly “liked” Lysol is the same person who posted something about how excited she was to make her own laundry detergent, so maybe there are just some really cleaning- and homemaking-obsessed people out there?

  6. Larry Lee permalink


    Have you tried noScript ( It’s available as a firefox add on and will block all javascript (which is used to present adds) by default. It will block videos (such as those presented on YouTube) by default as well, but you can easily provide exceptions.

    • You are awesome! But you might have already known that. I’ll have to look and see if it’s an option on Safari, but man, do I loathe those ads.

  7. Oh great. I just made a status update about my spray tan going from hot Brazilian girl to great aunt Edith visiting from the home in West Palm (orange and leathery). My ads are going to be ah may zing. Ugggg.

    • I snort-chuckled (snorkled with the deliberate misspelling?) at your description of great aunt Edith. My guess is you’ll now get ads for nursing homes with on-site tanning services, if I know Facebook.

  8. This. This post. I feel your pain.

    My ads got especially fucked after I did my research for my blog post about baby-stuff. Never again.

    There’s also a pretty consistent ad for falcon training though so it’s not all bad.

    • Oh man, I never got the falcon training ad! Maybe if I’d gotten that INSTEAD of the baby stuff, I wouldn’t have needed to block the ads. I always had to be really careful about what I typed…if my status update included anything about an upcoming wedding or any kind of anniversary (even if it wasn’t my own), I was bound to get ads for wedding stuff and even more jewelry stores wanting me to browbeat my ex into buying me a ring. Way to misread the situation, Facebook!

      • Well today it’s all about clothes, anime, Nicki Minaj (whaa?) and . . . criminal records are free to lookup online? Are they trying to warn me? I honestly don’t know what I looked up to encourage that.

      • Maybe they’re trying to get you to look up Nicki Minaj’s criminal record prior to joining her in an anime production…? Facebook makes me scratch my head most times.

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