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What Do Your Facebook Targeted Ads Interests Say About You?

Facebook thinks it knows us and it couldn't be more wrong.
Hannah Ewens
London, GB

Some Facebook interests

Sadly, regrettably, we're always on Facebook, aren't we? Which makes it the perfect place for brands to get us. Because we share – to varying degrees – everything about our lives, Facebook reckons it can get to know us and then pass on our interests to companies that want to sell us stuff.

Only, I can't remember the last time I saw an ad on my Facebook and bought something. Most of the things that pop up in my feed are just hideous ASOS sale dresses I've accidentally clicked on, or foot cream. But I'm sure Facebook knows me better than I think it does, so to check I went into my Facebook ad preferences – where the site lists all the "interests" it believes you have – and had a look around.(Since Facebook navigation is terrible, if you want to do the same, you have to go settings > ads > ads based on my preferences > visit ad preferences.)


This is who Facebook thinks I am. These are the interests that make me a special person, different from all the other fleshbags in the world:

Photography? Sure, yeah, I have a DSLR, like everyone who had a Myspace account and a limewired Photoshop CS2 in 2005. Televisions? Not so much, actually, Facebook. I don't own one, because I live in a south London hovel where we stream everything we want to watch. Reading – absolutely. Chicken – love those guys. Nothing too out of the ordinary here.

Until… heat pump? I have to Google heat pump to find out what it is, so if this really is one of my defining interests then something very traumatic involving a heat pump must have happened to me, because I've completely blanked all knowledge of it out of my memory.

Turtle? Legendary reptile, but can't say I have a strong investment in them.

Then I see that it lists VICE as an interest. CHRIST, let me breathe!

No, Facebook, you do not know me at all. Whatever you've done to try and get to know me, it doesn't seem to have worked. But to give your algorithm a fair test, let's see how well you know my potentially less complex and emotionally intelligent colleagues.


VICE: Hello, Joel. So, how representative are these of your interests?
Joel Golby: I went up a mountain once. I have never been to Stockport.

Do you have any wildcards?
I suppose they're all wildcards, really, because other than London and briefly Paris, I have never been to any of these places. Also, I only found my passport last year, so saying I'm a fan of "airlines" is a reach. A real reach.


Will you now buy a one-way flight to Barcelona?
Yes, I am extremely influenced by advertising.

Do you have a message for Facebook?
I can't believe I've been using your stupid website for close to a decade and you think I'm some sort of latent Stockport fan.


VICE: Hello, Angus. How did FB fare in their in-depth analysis of you?
Angus Harrison: Facebook, you've done it. This is me. This is me.

I confess to being a God-fearing man. There's nothing wrong with that. An honest, salt-of-the-earth, God-fearing man. The sort of God-fearing man who appreciates an honest, well-dressed, God-fearing woman playing the piano while furtively glancing over her shoulder. The sort of God-fearing man who reads the Bible, the sort of God-fearing man who watches episodes of the Hairy Bikers while reading the Bible. The sort of man who sometimes wonders if Jesus looked a bit like the bigger Hairy Biker. Who wonders if maybe John the Baptist looked anything like the smaller one? A good, honest, God-fearing man.

Not that into chimneys, though, to be totally honest.


VICE: Joe Bishop: This Is Your Life. Right?
Joe Bish: I'd say about half and half. I love memes, of course. But I wouldn't say I'm particularly interested in "gratitude" or "totem poles". I'm reading a book about the old west at the moment, which has Native Americans in, but I've never said anything about it on F-Beezy so I don't know how it could know that.


How have they associated you with these random things?
I mean, I'm a modern guy (memes, MSN) with an interest in history (knights), WORLD history, to boot (earth)!

Do you have a personal little message for the ads team?
Keep up the good work!


VICE: Daisy, hi. Is this you? Is this really you?
Daisy Jones: These things have absolutely no relevance to my interests whatsoever, apart from the fact I live in New Cross and currently use WiFi. Anything that sticks out as not-quite-right here?
Yeah, "Relic" and "West African Vodun"… what the fuck?! I just had to google what vodun is, and it's basically voodoo. I don't think voodoo could ever be associated with me *looks shifty, laughs nervously*.

Would these interests make you want to buy any of those things?
No, especially not "relic". Nobody could convince me to spend my hard earned cash on some relics, however impressive or old they might seem.


VICE: Salma, your thoughts, please.
Salma: I haven't worn lipgloss since I was 13, so no. I do fancy some carbs, though. Maybe paired with The Hills anniversary special, which I still haven't got round to.

Is this generally representative of you? Have Facebook done good?
I can't for the life of me figure out how they think I like trams or gray wolves.

So, no?
I just don't know how they've got that… I really don't understand…


More on Facebook:

Here's Every Type of Annoying Person You're Mates With on Facebook

What Your Profile Photo Says About You

The Cult of Negative Viral Content