I’m on Facebook and the blog has its Facebook network group, so I see those ridiculous dieting ads in my sidebar every time I log in. I’ve become so desensitized to dieting ads by now that I usually tune them out altogether and those that do catch my eye I recognize as the ridiculous snake oil claims they really are. I mean, come on… Has anyone seen Oprah recently? Obviously acai berries aren’t the new weight loss superfood she purportedly touts them to be.
Not everyone is as impervious to diet ads as I am. Cruella Blog author Kate was so incensed by weight-loss and dieting ads on Facebook that she neutered her profile. As Kate explains it, the Facebook advertising system is supposed to target customers most likely to be interested in their products, but after struggling with anorexia as a teen the now college student holds absolute zero interest in trying the Rachel Ray or Supermodel wonder diets. So, why are these ads appearing on her profile? Ponders Kate:
…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).
The ads bothered Kate so much she removed her gender option from her profile altogether. She’s now subjected to very few annoying diet ads, but she can’t keep from wondering about other option-female Facebook users out there, especially those who are still actively struggling with body image or an eating disorder.
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.
One of Kate’s commenters recommended these great Facebook groups:
The first group also recommends that every time you see a weight loss advert in your sidebar, click the thumb-down icon and mark it as offensive. I changed my profile to genderless and one refresh later, bye bye dieting and beauty ads. Hello less annoying “Campers and Hikers needed,” “Publish your own book,” and “Bearcats fan gear” adverts.