You go to a web site. You search for something. You then go to another page and the very thing you were looking for is now in the advertisements in the facebook feed, the side banners, just about everything you look at. All due to tracking, beacons, cookies and all of the things that web sites use to keep track of you.
Just out today is something that is interesting, frightening, sad, and empowering all in one. And for those of us in the United States, a bit timely.
Firefox and ProPublica are bundling a browser that has specific extensions specifically to monitor election ad tracking as well as provide a database of what ads are targeting us. Just the other day my Dad said that if every politician did what their opponent said they did, we shouldn’t vote either one into office. But nevertheless, someone needs to represent us and rather than not voting at all, it’s time to make your voice heard.
The ProPublica extension specifically tracks what ads end up in your Facebook stream and what they are targeting.
What the Extension Does
The extension places a content script on every Facebook page you visit. That script scans for ads, which it then stores on your computer. These ads are also sent to ProPublica to support research and journalism
But Susan, (you say) in the month of paranoia you want to SEND information to a journalism site? For this purpose I do. I’m convinced that foreign countries did (and still do) use targeted facebook and targeted twitter bots to enhance and influence opinions in other countries.
If you don’t do social media, wonderful, this paranoia isn’t for you. But if you do… it might just be an interesting experiment to undertake in the month left before the elections.
Even if you don’t think this is an interesting idea, may I strongly urge you to ensure you are signed up to vote. For some states, the deadline was today.
I don’t want to make this post political in any way, I just want to urge you to vote, period. It’s time we all keep a bit more eye on things.