when a new ad comes up on social media and you backtrack to what your phone must have spied on for it to "find" you

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i'm sure this sounds lazy and dumb, i'm getting more of both every day, but it sure is a lot of work to try and get this to not happen. i'm at the age where i contemplate back-tracking in some ways rather than moving forward. i.e. getting a dedicated, limited phone of some kind. that's probably more difficult to do in many ways, if not impossible, i haven't really looked into it.

i kind of wanted to blather a little bit about the experience of this. i can't think of any specific examples right now so i'll try proceeding more generally. an ad pops up and you immediately recognize it as 'coming from' something you've experienced in some way. you think back to how your phone must have received it. did you have the phone out, did you speak anything about it, was it camera only, etc. often times there is a drift from the thing before it gets picked up by your phone and the ad that's served to you, and the particularities of that are always interesting to me. i mean, overall i think the experience is unpleasant, just being constantly reminded of how your lived life is chopped up into data products that need to function in a marketplace, maybe even more so that your experience of a moment in time and your phone's experience of it are different, and when that smacks you back in the form of an ad it's discomforting uncanny valley stuff, your moment becomes this manifestation of ecommerce as this techno-social-capital frankenstein. a perverse transformation imo. at some basic level i'm a little puritan about it maybe. i just want more control over the continuity that modulates my own experience of life, maybe it all comes down to 'using social media for business not pleasure' or something. anyway.

ꙮ (map), Tuesday, 1 November 2022 00:09 (six months ago) link

unless your phone has been compromised in a very specific way, as in an individual or group specifically monitoring you, camera and microphone have nothing to do with it

that’s the first thing people turn to, though, because we’re visual and aural beings

obv it’s the 5G waves (kidding, it’s wifi and bluetooth although I’d read verizon’s data collection policies about location lol)

mh, Tuesday, 1 November 2022 00:59 (six months ago) link

mh, microphone definitely has nothing to do with it? If you have siri active it is always listening so that it knows when you say “hey siri,” right? So why wouldn’t it also know and record if you say “I’m looking for a new pair of running shoes” or whatever. Asking because you sound like you know what you’re talking about and I’ve had enough eerie experiences like this to really wonder

Lavator Shemmelpennick, Tuesday, 1 November 2022 02:01 (six months ago) link

if one of these things was recording all audio and storing or uploading it, it’d be pretty noticeable. I’d take all disclaimers with a grain of salt but at least on apple devices you can explicitly opt out of audio sent for diagnostic purchases. and apple’s ads that can be paid for are, iirc, just on the app store and they claim to not resell data. I wouldn’t say they’ll never be an ad company, but their pitch right now is they only sell ads for things that feed back into app purchases

siri does on-phone processing of some requests now. it doesn’t capture audio until it thinks it hears you requesting it, determines if it can do something on-device (like set a timer) and then sends either a transformed clip of the audio to their servers, or possibly just a transcription before responding back to the device

I haven’t read the terms of service on any android devices and couldn’t say how much data is shared, etc, but google is an ad company first, services second, and consumer hardware is way down the chain

Some coworkers did a proof of concept using Amazon Echo devices a few years ago and those things leak data like a sieve. The reason they were so cheap is they did a shit job of recognizing their own name and double-checked with the cloud to see if they were actually being addressed. Probably better now, but 100% of all audio parsing was in the cloud when my peers checked it out. If you have a ring doorbell then chances are footage was very poorly scrubbed of street signs and then manually marked up (this is a car, this is a face, etc) by someone at some point to help train their model

mh, Tuesday, 1 November 2022 02:30 (six months ago) link

I’m phrasing this poorly, but imagine that the thing in the device waiting for you to say “siri” has a flattened idea of what that particular word sounds like. There’s a very low power chip (part of one, really) that flattens audio the microphone picks up and it only wakes up when it detects a close match to that pattern and captures more audio. It’s not doing language parsing or anything until it’s awake.

mh, Tuesday, 1 November 2022 02:35 (six months ago) link

I've never had a conversation about sperm donation until my friend came to visit and told me about her friend I don't know choosing that route. We spoke about it out loud but I had my phone on charge the whole time, I didn't use it to look up any information about it whatsoever. The next day my timeline was full of adverts inviting me to earn money by donating mine. I don't have any Siri/Alexa appliances so I don't even use the voice commands on my phone. It's too specifically coincidental.

boxedjoy, Tuesday, 1 November 2022 08:37 (six months ago) link

One thing I find heartening is ads often try to sell me things I have just purchased online. Not the smartest spies in the world.

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 1 November 2022 10:55 (six months ago) link

Dear Amazon, I bought a toilet seat because I needed one. Necessity, not desire. I do not collect them. I am not a toilet seat addict. No matter how temptingly you email me, I'm not going to think, oh go on then, just one more toilet seat, I'll treat myself.

— Jacqueline (Jac) Rayner (@GirlFromBlupo) April 6, 2018

boxedjoy, Tuesday, 1 November 2022 12:06 (six months ago) link

xxp so your friend who was talking about sperm donation had likely looked up details on their phone, right? and then was at your place, where your phone regularly is

boxedjoy, I have to break it to you, advertisers think you may live at or near a sperm donation clinic

mh, Tuesday, 1 November 2022 12:47 (six months ago) link

mh, your xposts make sense and help to explain the technology, thank you. doesn't change how creepy those experiences like the sperm donation one are. the only recent one that comes to mind is not a targeted ad, but a facebook "you may be friends with" suggestion that was someone i had never heard of before but had recently been talking about with someone. i guess that seems even more technologically outlandish that it would be the audio somehow feeding back on that, but whatever the mechanism the amount of data analysis is disconcerting to say the least. i guess we all know that pretty well at this point.

Lavator Shemmelpennick, Wednesday, 2 November 2022 15:54 (six months ago) link

it's creepy!

having worked in information technology and talked to salespeople who represent companies that sell so-called "big data" processing technology, it moves past creepy to irritating and sadly mundane. thankfully, some have rolled back on their tactics. and fwiw, I don't work with personal details in my job in any way

the most weird situation had to be a day when I was reading an article on a website for a company that sells a product I'd evaluated at work. ten minutes later, my work phone rings and it's a rep from that company on the line

either web browser cookies or the network I was accessing the site from had pinged their site, been aggregated with prior data ("user mh has accessed our site from this browser/network address before, we can correlate that with our sales contacts list, maybe today is the day he's up for a sales pitch")

having your work phone, which you never use, ring after just clicking on a blog, after mere minutes? come on guys, fuck off

I haven't looked at facebook's rules recently -- and they definitely do not apply them for "suggested friends" type of things -- but I think there's a floor on being able to target small demographic groups via ads. there has to be a minimum of 1000 people, I think?

that makes it less likely some stalker is going to say "show this ad to men between the age of 25 and 30 who live in this postal code and follow this band on facebook" but things will still seem oddly specific

mh, Wednesday, 2 November 2022 16:17 (six months ago) link

fwiw I've been very tuned into what ads I do see this week

it's teeth whitening, some kickbait "new tech on kickstarter" site, men's hair restoration, and some face lotion that is for men that have bad skin from drinking alcohol


mh, Wednesday, 2 November 2022 16:21 (six months ago) link

damn the algorithms are negging your appearance hardcore

Lavator Shemmelpennick, Wednesday, 2 November 2022 16:52 (six months ago) link

I look fine (having applied the lotion and strategically combed my hair)

mh, Wednesday, 2 November 2022 16:56 (six months ago) link

multiple xps my pal S was visiting and she was telling me about a girl M we know who was intending to get pregnant. M wasn't planning to use a sperm bank, she was buying it from someone on Facebook (!) but we didn't look up anything while we sat having this conversation. So, yes it is possible that my pal S had looked it up and then due to location tracking etc I got nudged towards a sperm bank, but it's definitely disconcerting either way.

boxedjoy, Wednesday, 2 November 2022 17:04 (six months ago) link

xp now just need to work on those yellow teeth

Lavator Shemmelpennick, Wednesday, 2 November 2022 17:05 (six months ago) link

not exactly on topic but related: a couple years ago I was at the company Christmas party and the next morning on Facebook I got a notification asking if I wanted to tag myself in some photo. I look at the photo and it's a picture of a bunch of people I don't know - I recognize a couple from work but I never actually talked to them. I was somewhere in the background, hidden enough that if I'd looked at the photo I might not even recognized myself in it. and yet Facebook knew it was me, despite not having any mutual friends with the people in the picture. clearly FB figured out that this was a work party, or that people I knew were there, and decided to look up every face it saw in an attempt to tag people. I find that pretty unsettling.

frogbs, Wednesday, 2 November 2022 17:13 (six months ago) link

xp I did order the advertised kit, marketing works

mh, Wednesday, 2 November 2022 17:27 (six months ago) link

lol facebook undid almost all of the auto-tag recommendations (and I think maybe removed the "this is the guy" with a square around your face) and photo annotations in favor of just having the tag on the photo post some years ago because it was more than a little overzealous and creepy

mh, Wednesday, 2 November 2022 17:29 (six months ago) link

one time I was wearing a Leatherface mask, and a tag suggestion showed up for one of my friends. FB calling my friend ugly, cruel

stank viola (Neanderthal), Wednesday, 2 November 2022 17:30 (six months ago) link

i used to work in the world of campaign management s/w (help install and configure, support, test etc).

when i joined the company it was all about the speed of analysing and disecting massive datasets so you could send a leaflet/catalogue.
old fashioned real world junk mail.
then as things changed, it became about email campaigns.
you'd receive an email with an offer the s/w would then analyse the way you dealt with the email.
i.e. if you looked at it but didn't do anything, then it would do X,
whereas if you looked and it and clicked a link, then it would do Y,
and if you did nothing, it would then wait a configured length of time and then would do Z.
that kind of process.

now, even at that time i was never proud of the end result of the s/w, especially, when certain political organisations starting using the s/w to get to their specific target audience.

the actual underlying technology was quite impressive and cool as it used a bespoke database/engine solution making it a lot quicker than the big well known options.
and that was all good.
then one of the founders came up with a scenario :
you are on your laptop thinking of a weekend break.
you go to hotel website and have a look.
you then click away to another website, but you'd then get a txt or email nudging you to have another look at the hotel website with an offer.
(within seconds of you clicking away)
if you took up this offer via the website then as you entered the hotel, you would be sent a 'Hello Welcome to Hotel X' via email/txt, along with various special offers you could use while you stayed in the hotel.
and we got a working demo for such a scenario, albeit somewhat clunky.
and this was the moment i thought 'i aint liking this direction', and became very aware of the invasion and signed off as a company man (which also coincided with a massive change in my life as some of you may be aware of).

thankfully, the Windows legacy browser plug in that was required to power the front end was killed off by MS (silverlight), which meant the whole thing had to be recoded in HTML5 which effectively killed the company off, ending up with a lot of redundancies (approaching my 5th anniversary !) and ended up with the company offering a much slimmer s/w package these days.

no doubt the founders dream is now an easy click-n-go option via social media,
but at the time, it was an absolute arse to figure out for the developers and was always flaky as fuck, and yeah, even now such situations as described i still find very creepy and invasive.

mark e, Wednesday, 2 November 2022 18:08 (six months ago) link

in line with mh's excellent suggestions above, the EFF Privacy Badger extension is free and simple to install; on most websites I see zero targeted ads when it's active


for those who haven't already done so, it pays to dig around in the privacy and security settings for each of your social media accounts and turn off everything you can that helps the platform sell your data to advertisers

Brad C., Wednesday, 2 November 2022 22:59 (six months ago) link

I don’t mind getting ads for things I’m interested in. I’d rather get those than things I’m not interested in. But I agree the tech behind it is often creepy.

Position Position, Thursday, 3 November 2022 00:00 (six months ago) link

As people have pointed out upthread, it's bizarre how once you've bought something, the algorithm seems to think you want to buy the same thing all over again. For weeks after I bought a plane ticket to Thailand, I was getting ads for special deals on flights to Thailand. But I've already booked the flight, why would I need another one? They're literally targeting the one person who would have absolutely zero interest in booking a flight to Thailand!

Zelda Zonk, Thursday, 3 November 2022 00:08 (six months ago) link

Target sends me an email advertising cat food about an hour after I get home from buying cat food

mh, Thursday, 3 November 2022 00:41 (six months ago) link

two weeks pass...

oh no i lingered over a photo of a christmas sweater with the stranger things logo on it except it was "manger things" and a nativity scene and now i'm detecting a rapid influx of christmas ads being served to me. this post probably isn't helping me out here.

ꙮ (map), Thursday, 17 November 2022 18:35 (six months ago) link

maybe google "hajj 2023" "how to convert to judaism" and "diwali candles" ?

rob, Thursday, 17 November 2022 18:45 (six months ago) link

not a bad idea

ꙮ (map), Thursday, 17 November 2022 18:46 (six months ago) link

there was a web privacy app I read about years ago that instead of engaging in the arms race of protecting you from profilers, it silently did lots of random searches to make your data meaningless

rob, Thursday, 17 November 2022 18:49 (six months ago) link

three weeks pass...

It's still out there: https://github.com/essandess/isp-data-pollution

Elvis Telecom, Monday, 12 December 2022 07:39 (five months ago) link

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