You don't have to be a victim of algorithms. Here are some tips!
With targeted advertising algorithms getting more sophisticated by the day, you might find yourself surrounded by exactly the kind of advertisement you don’t want to see. That’s because as much as those algorithms can know, they’ll never see the nuance. They might know that you clicked on all kinds of pregnancy and parenting related content, but they won’t know if you later miscarry. (That’s what happened to Gillian Brockell, and suddenly her social media feed was full of intensely triggering content.)
Or the algorithms might have a clue that you’re trying to conceive, but they won’t know you’re battling infertility, and the last thing you need is to constantly be reminded. Or maybe your pregnancy is going along just fine, but all of those cute babies in the diaper ads are reminding you of just how daunted you are. There are plenty of times that this kind of “smart” advertising goes wrong, and it can really hurt.
Even when you can’t block advertising altogether, you’re not helpless. Journalist Annie Bucknall put together an incredibly user-friendly “Digital Bereavement Checklist” meant to help out moms who’ve miscarried, which is a useful resource for anyone who’s being bombarded with ads that they just don’t want to see.
If Facebook or Instagram is where you spend most of your time, Bucknall writes, you can “change your Facebook ad preferences so that you can’t be marketed to based on websites you have visited before. … Facebook has also introduced a feature called ‘Hide ad topics’ which will allow you to opt out of marketing for sensitive topics (such as alcohol, parenting, and pets) for a specified period of time. Facebook owns Instagram so any changes you make there will automatically be applied to your Instagram account also.”
Bucknall also includes instructions on changing your Pinterest account settings, as well as all the companies owned by Google, including Youtube. If you’re on any mailing lists, it’s worth unsubscribing or marking those emails as spam, so they don’t keep coming.
If just going into the settings is too much for you right now, feel free to ask a trusted friend to make the changes for you. Just know that you don’t have to put up with constant reminders of something painful, and it’s not as complicated as you might think to make them go away.