Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hey Facebook, Hands Off My Self-Esteem!

I have just changed my Facebook profile so that it no longer has my gender on it. Not that it's a secret or that I can't remember what it is any more - I'm just really fed up with every time I log on being bombarded with hundreds of adverts for diet products. I'm not on a diet. I have a BMI in the normal/correct/healthy range, I exercise regularly and I eat when I'm hungry or near a sushi restaurant.

The Facebook advertising system is supposed to allow advertisers to target the customers most likely to be interested in their product. But I don't seem to be getting any adverts that are hitting me because I'm a university graduate, because my favourite film is Secrets and Lies or because I'm a member of the group "I have more foreign policy experience than Sarah Palin". You would think Republican adverts for foreign policy researchers would be over-loading my system. No instead the only measure I am being profiled on is "has vagina" (tick) therefore "must hate own body and want to be size zero" (uh-uh).

Now as a teenager I suffered quite seriously from anorexia. I made a pretty full recovery, but there are lots of women out there who aren't as lucky as me - those currently experiencing eating disorders anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating. And BDD (body dismorphic disorder) along with other related issues - like feeling the need to have extensive sugery or bottulism injections on their healthy bodies. Is Facebook checking to make sure it doesn't send adverts like these inappropriately to those with or at risk of developing issues with their bodies? Maybe they could add an extra box to people's profiles. Are you interested in starting an extreme weigh-loss diet based exclusively on grass seeds and acai berries? No? Oh, ok we'll leave you alone then.

But it works - since going gender-neutral on Facebook I have very few diet ads. Instead my adverts are mainly for theatre tickets, loans, legal services, other facebook apps and christmas shopping sites. I seriously recommend other women do the same if they want to be able to surf the web without having their self esteem sureptitiously eroded!

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Blogger Anji said...

You ought to join the groups Mark Weight Loss Adverts on Facebook as "Offensive" (mine) and FUCK OFF with your sexist diet advertisements, Facebook. :o)

5:23 pm  
Blogger Will Work For Books said...

Am I being thick? I can't see how to remove it!

6:24 pm  
Blogger Yvonne said...

wow brillliant. I just might do that! I hate those stupid ads and it never occurred to me that I am getting those ads because I marked down my gender as female. wow.

9:50 pm  
Blogger Cruella said...

Profile - update and then pick the drop-down gender box and put it back to the one that says "Select gender:" (i.e. how it is before you first set it to "female") and then hit save.

10:11 pm  
Blogger RM said...

What a good idea! I will have to go and do it right away!

11:20 am  
Blogger Cruella said...

It is working so well - my adverts this morning said "Meet your favourite football player" and "Try Sky TV for free".

2:32 pm  
Blogger sheep said...

I've never specified my gender, but I get these ads all the time anyway. Giving them a thumbs-down doesn't get rid of them either! :/

9:19 am  
Blogger Gina said...

You mention that your BMI is "correct/healthy." Whereas these ads are totally appropriate for me because I'm fat? Maybe Facebook should ask for our weights or BMIs so it can helpfully classify us into "lose weight, fatty" and "correct/healthy" categories.

3:08 pm  
Blogger Cruella said...

I don't mean to suggest that these ads are appropriate for women who are overweight, but I think we could argue they are appropriate for women who want to lose weight. Now for me I'm not in that category because my weight is normal/correct/healthy and i do use those categories with a fair dollop of skepticism but I totally accept that others may not be in that category because they are happy as they are or indeed because 90-something percent of weight lost on diets is put back on in a few years and these diets don't even work for those who choose to follow them.

3:11 am  
Blogger luccy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:26 am  
Blogger MartinR said...

As a man in Sweden, I get badly translated Facebook ads that say "Hitta nĂ¥gra mutta" -- literally "Find a few cunt". It's just mindboggling.

7:18 pm  

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