How do the advertisements know that I am newly interested in something if I never typed it but casually talked about it around the house?


I just got fired a month ago. I have not been doing ANY research on the next move but casually talk to my partner about going for a coding boot camp. I haven’t even updated my LinkedIn or anything like that.

Suddenly, I am served coding Bootcamp ads on Youtube, they show up on the little dedicated ads banners on websites and so on.

I am not referring to the more predictable situation where I search for true crime shows or so and have all these streaming services serving me ads based on my search history.

In: 13

Your phone listens to you. If you have a smart device, like an Amazon echo, it listens to you. Basically if you have something connected to the internet around you, you have no privacy.

Mostly it’s coincidence and [pareidolia]( In your particular example, another explanation is that some algorithm has put you and your partner into the same cohort for advertising purposes, perhaps based on frequent co-presence of your phones. If your partner googled “coding boot camp” after your conversation, then the advertising algorithm thinks you might be interested in that as well.

They listen plain and simple. I’ll use 2 examples I have had happen to me.

1. My stepmom passed away or was really close to it I don’t remember which. I made a phone call to my little brother and we talked for about 45 min and a big focus was on what he was going to do, cremation, and we talked about cost and what not. 15 min after I hung up with him I was browsing Facebook…. Cremation ads started popping up like crazy.

2. I’m a gringo through and through I speak no Spanish what so ever and never watch anything Spanish on my TV or any devices. My wife is Colombian and speaks Spanish, not much but when she’s on the phone or to our son. Well all of the sudden I was getting ads in Spanish on Hulu and other streaming services.

Both of these instances there was only one way they would know any of this, and that’s by listening to what’s being said.

Because these companies have data files on you that would the NSA cream themselves. Anyone you told could have googled it, and you get it by correlation. people who lose their jobs could be bumped into a category that then serves boots camps, gig work, other school..etc. you could have even just clicked on a few things related to it or something close, without even thinking about it or searching for it. Perhaps they are listening through the device as well. They say they don’t but giant companies are not exactly honest, so I don’t take their word for it.

Machine learning can figure out relationships between things that are way deeper than humans are usually aware of.

For example it may know that you’re recently interested in Terence McKenna because three months ago you bought tickets to a music festival for the first time in your life.

So while you’re talking about Terence McKenna with your parents over dinner, the AI at Facebook Advertising knows to present you with Terence McKenna themed sunglasses because people who go to Burning Man for the first time ever might just end up interested in the man.

It doesn’t know why. It just knows that it happens. There might be other factors too, like for example you’ve been googling up famous painters, and listening to Infected Mushroom, and searching terms like `dark web` and `how to use tor` and `what is monero` and doing deep dives on wikipedia into math and fractals or something.

Maybe you recently bought tickets to Peru, and you canceled a return flight, and rented a llama. It might even be as subtle as you googled `most durable sunglasses` or `what is a chicken bus`.

Long story short, it knows a trillion mathematical correlations, so it can probably predict that you’ll be arguing another Time Wave Zero over the dinner table with your dad who has been googling `military school` and `are bell bottoms still in style` or who’s been spending more money at Taco Bell lately, and your mom has been googling `cute kittens` more often than usual.

Then one day you hit up youtube for `best of Norm MacDonald` and it’s knows the time has come to send you ads for Terence McKenna t-shirts in the style of those Che Guevara pictures.

Before you even realize it, the voice you use to read internet comments becomes Terence McKenna’s voice and you’re not even sure how or when it happened, and you’re just riding the brakes all the way down from that point.