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Turnaround Time on Facebook’s Spying: 12 Hours

Katherine Bindley, writing for The Wall Street Journal:

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.

Friday, 1 March 2019