If we take advantage of all these privacy controls, it shouldn’t
still feel as if Facebook is spying on us, right? We shouldn’t see
so many ads that seem so closely tied to our activity on our
phones, on the internet or in real life.
The reality? I took those steps months ago, from turning off
location services to opting out of ads on Facebook and its sibling
Instagram tied to off-site behavior. I told my iPhone to “limit ad
tracking.” Yet I continue to see eerily relevant ads.
I tested my suspicion by downloading the What to Expect pregnancy
app. I didn’t so much as share an email address, yet in less than
12 hours, I got a maternity-wear ad in my Instagram feed. I’m not
pregnant, nor otherwise in a target market for maternity-wear.
When I tried to retrace the pathway, discussing the issue with the
app’s publisher, its data partners, the advertiser and Facebook
itself — dozens of emails and phone calls — not one would draw a
connection between the two events. Often, they suggested I ask one
of the other parties.
Bindley’s piece ran under the headline “Why Facebook Still Seems to Spy on You”. I get that the Journal wants to be cautious, but there’s no “seems to” about it. They spy on us.