Daily Mirror reporter Talia Shadwell’s Twitter thread just went viral, and for good reason. It highlights how desperate advertisers are in the digital age, willing to go as far as it takes to shove products down our throats. Or vaginas.

Recently, Facebook started bombarding Talia with pregnancy and baby-related ads, even though she wasn’t pregnant. Turns out, it was the period tracking app that gave birth to the annoying onslaught. Or Shadwell’s absence from it, to be precise. As she wrote, this story is an “insight into how big tech navigates women’s bodies,” and it is definitely helpful to know.

More info: Twitter

Image credits: Talia Shadwell

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Image credits: TaliaShadwell

“So I pulled up the app’s privacy settings and noticed that while it promised not to share details I ‘entered manually’ with its third-party partners, the terms and conditions’ language cleverly avoided ruling out sharing information about aggregated data – like patterns or trends,” Shadwell explained on Daily Mirror.

This experience has confirmed to her how little she knows about the technicalities of social media technology and apps. Just like most of us. “In a world where advertising is no longer restricted to billboards and magazines, I don’t want it to become so intrusive it leaves me feeling unnerved,” Shadwell said.

“It is a no-brainer that developers and social media giants have worked out how to monetize that precious data, and I hadn’t lost any sleep over it- yet. In many ways, algorithms have made my life better, more convenient, and more efficient. Those clever little trend-sniffers have connected me with my new favorite brands, learned my style and promoted dresses and shoes I’ve dutifully then gone on to purchase. Algorithms have uncovered my guilty pleasure and push the juicy ‘agony aunt’ columns I love to read to the top of my news feeds.”

“But algorithms are rather like the body’s bacteria – you might not be able to see or understand them – but you can be certain they are not always working for you.”

This wasn’t the first time women’s health apps have raised questions about their privacy, too. For example, the video game company Activision Blizzard was reportedly encouraging its employees to use family planning apps. These programs then shared user information with the company’s management so they could see how many of the employees were trying to get pregnant.

Women instantly related to Talia’s story

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