Following on from recent news about various feminist campaigns – Everyday Sexism, the shocking treatment of Professor Mary Beard and Caroline Criado-Perez – I noticed something. This has been bugging me for a while, but yesterday I decided to try a little experiment. You see, I have a Facebook account. I don’t use it much apart from keeping in touch with distant family and close friends, but there it is.
As you probably know, Facebook now places adverts and suggested pages based on, allegedly, your preferences, ‘likes’ and the information you provide about yourself. Now I know this is tosh, because the adverts I get are so comprehensively unrelated to anything I actually like – well, it’s as if the ad department has been taken over by my very best friend who has known me for nearly 30 years, and uses each day to make me laugh by selecting solely and especially those products that I would never need, want or use.
Dear, dear Facebook … yes, I have ovaries. Strangely they do not compel me to diet. Or to binge. Or to hoover. Or to decorate. Or to love puppies. Or search for amazing anti-wrinkle tricks discovered by a local mum which dermatologists hate her for. I do not need to lose lbs, shed that baby weight, banish lingering odours, train as an aromatherapist, earn $$$ while the kids are at school or deal with those troublesome stains.
Back when I set up my profile, my interests were (in no particular order) ska, Doctor Who, robots, science fiction and Mozart. I’ve since cleared that out a bit but still there’s nothing there to suggest that what I really need to complete my existence is the latest weird trick for a flat tummy. So I can only assume that it’s the existence of my lady parts that leads Facebook to believe it knows me better than I know myself.
So, the experiment. One little change. I reset my gender to ‘male’. That’s all.
And since I made that one little change? Here are the results. Back when I was a woman, the last few suggestions were:
Weird trick to a flat tummy
Plymouth mum, 53, looks 25 – see how!
Enter our competition to win a spa break
Share our promotion (washing powder) with your friends to win a holiday
Boots beauty products promotion
Let There Be Beer
Rdio music app
Immaculate Beauty – Lose 1-st0ne a week by eating these 2 strange foods
Since the change:
iPhone secrets – the app
Channel 4 – The Returned
Uniform tax rebate for the self employed security professional
Smart alarm clock for iPhone
The Hot Wheels Tour game
Loyalty or Death online game
Brain Storm strategy game
EE sim offer
Thurgo Ltd ( a new local consumer electronics outlet)
Facebook didn’t bother to market apps or strategy games at me when I was a girl – presumably assuming I only use my technological toys for shopping and catching up with celebrity lifestyles. Interestingly, there’s nothing in my preferences to suggest I like football, so not sure where the sportscast thing has come from. Consumer electronics, ditto. And last time I checked there were no pictures of me working the pub door scene in a high vis vest. So, surprise surprise, Facebook has no more interest or clue about my actual consumer habits or requirements than it did before … It’s simply basing its marketing strategy on a lame pink/blue divide.
*Actually my nickname in college, just FYI.