I Just realised How Zealously Facebook Tracks Me And Sells That Info To Advertisers

walter hickey

Earlier this week, I decided to buy a fossil. 

This was a pretty impetuous decision.

I had never demonstrated any interest in fossil acquisition.

I knew nothing about the market.

The decision to buy a fossil stemmed from some combination of:

  1. Seeing a guy hawking fossils in Union Square on Sunday
  2. Going to a dinner party earlier this month at a fossil collector’s home and subsequently thinking the host was outrageously cool.
trilobite fossilTrilobites.

So Tuesday I started looking into the market.

I decided I wanted a trilobite — for all intents and purposes, a common, early Cambrian cockroach — as it seemed like a good, inexpensive specimen to begin amassing a collection. 

After thoroughly checking out the market — Etsy, EBay, a handful of specialty sites — I realised that pricing was pretty confusing and I’d revisit it later. 

Then yesterday — one day after the initial search — I start seeing these ads everywhere on Facebook:


facebook ad


That’s Etsy trying to sell me a trilobite, one day after I spent an evening Googling trilobites. Creepy.

But most importantly, we can ascertain a couple of things:

  • Facebook knew I went to Etsy
  • Facebook knew I wanted a fossil, specifically a Trilobite. 
  • Facebook somehow coordinated with Etsy to produce a picture of a Trilobite on the ad for Etsy. 

I’m not a tech writer, so this was news to me. I’m told that Google, and Amazon, and others track my behaviour.

Anyway, it was a pretty big wake-up call to the extent that Facebook tracks my activity and hawks it to advertisers.

Also, if anyone knows a reputable fossil salesman feel free to contact me. 

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