The algorithms of Facebook are running amok, serving people ‘targeted’ adverts that offend, humiliate, and distort the truth. Here’s why a new approach is needed for both users and brands alike…
Isn’t it strange to think that Facebook — in its early, Silicon Valley-idealistic, mid-Noughties incarnation — once heavily prized the idea of ‘friendship’? Connect with long-lost college chums! View holiday photos of workmates! Befriend total strangers without the slog of emotional legwork! This was all part of a wider aim to bring the world together, one blue thumbs-up at a time…
Now, Facebook has become a toxic bully who gaslights you by selling malicious gossip about your personal details, while slipping disturbing photographs through your letterbox.
How else would you explain the cruelty of its advertising algorithms? This was laid bare in a Financial Times article recently which mentioned a London woman who sadly miscarried twins, yet was continually served adverts related to childbirth and being a mummy every time she visited the platform. It’s the same reason why many of my friends who’ve lost parents digitally boycott social media on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day: the pain of being blitzed with ads of saccharine family life is all too much.
The Financial Times likened Facebook’s never-ending flow of adverts to a “digital firehose”. Fortunately, I turned this hose off when I quit Facebook, sickened at being exploited by a Machiavellian machine conspiring to make as much money from me as possible.
Millions of brands advertise on Facebook under the misguided belief their presence on the platform accurately targets potential consumers. The reality? These brands often find themselves swept away in the aimless spray of Facebook’s hose. In 2019, the platform was accused of restricting who could view housing-related ads based on users’ colour and religion [https://www.reuters.com/article/us-facebook-advertisers-idUSKCN1R91E8]; the same year it also showed harmful gambling adverts to 740,000 children, who it flagged up as being “interested” in the adults-only activity. [https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/oct/09/children-interested-in-gambling-and-alcohol-facebook].
Instead of paying a firehose to reach consumers, surely a laser might be more useful?
That’s what we believe we offer at Zedosh. By giving brands the chance to run hyper-targeted ad campaigns in a distraction-free environment, they can attract hard-to-reach customers with razor-sharp precision, hopefully building loyal relationships. As for Zedosh users, the app is a safe space where they’ll see only verified ads from those brands that value their attention. They can also avoid any ads they don’t like by choosing our ‘Don’t Show Me This Again’ option. Oh, and did I mention they’ll get paid for watching too?
Nobody should head online to find distressing adverts in their feeds. If that sounds like your social media consumption, simply do what you’d do with any toxic pal: dump them.