Facebook is not only just a place on the net to see your grannies new dog, it has also become a hotbed for ethically gray privacy encroaching advertising.
You’ve probably witnessed your phone trying to sell you stuff that is so oddly specific and personal that it feels a little spooky? For instance, a direct to garment T-shirt that uses your birthday, occupation, and personal hobbies all in one heinous looking package. The targeted T-shirt.
These ads look like some corny shirt that was personally made for you, or even custom made for you, but in fact it’s using Facebook data and targeting other users with a similar background as you. Having these overly specific T-shirts that are the closest thing to custom tailored for you pushed out through Facebook targeted ads has been a money making scheme for a few years now.
Imagine if you were an uncle who’s a welder that was born in California on a warm day in March that happens to love corgis. Someone who is paying for ads through Facebook can target those precise corgi loving welders.
These graphic tees are made on websites like Redbubble, which are print on demand and typically have no limits as far as designs go. There’s data showing the highest paid sellers on these sites use scripts to automate the whole process. From generating custom designs all the way to inputting these custom fields into Facebook’s advertising algorithm.
Early on, these novel items might have been thought of as cool and worthwhile, but the younger generation has taken notice of these corny-dog Tees. There’s even a subreddit that features these shirts as well as a meme page with a storefront that mainly uses parodies of this style of T-shirt
With new privacy upgrades on iOS, the Facebook data that was once frivolously shared is slowly starting to dwindle. This might mean the end of highly targeted ads and the birth of a bit more vague brand of cheap T-shirts.
P.S. this post ain't satire, y'all