Privacy tech worker takes to Twitter to explain how ads know things they really shouldn’t

June 2nd, 2021

We are getting to the point where the companies who wish to sell us products seem to know details about us and our lives that even some of our closest friends don’t. This fact can be concerning to many people.

Recently, privacy tech worker Robert G. Reeve took to Twitter to dispel some myths and add some clarity to how and why advertisements seem to know intimate details about us.

Evidently, it was a trip to his mother’s house and subsequent online advertisements he saw for her brand of toothpaste that kicked off these comments.

What he has to say is disconcertingly eye-opening.

Your social media apps are not listening to you.

Reeve starts by dispelling the myth that your social media apps are actually listening to you.

“First of all, your social media apps are not listening to you. This is a conspiracy theory. It’s been debunked over and over again. But frankly they don’t need to because everything else you give them unthinkingly is way cheaper and way more powerful,” he Tweeted.

Kate McKinnon’s SNL character “Dr. Weknowdis” was enlisted to help him explain:

Ok sure, but how did they know what toothpaste you were using at your mom’s house?

Reeve went into great detail regarding the great detail companies go into to extract useful data from our online activity.

“They can match my Harris Teeter purchases to my Twitter account because I gave both those companies my email address and phone number and I agreed to all that data-sharing when I accepted those terms of service and the privacy policy,” he continued to Tweet.

Using GPS location to see who you might be visiting.

The data that companies are collecting isn’t just about you but also about the people around you.

“The advertisers can cross-reference my interests and browsing history and purchase history to those around me. It starts showing ME different ads based on the people AROUND me,” he continued. “Family. Friends. Coworkers.”

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Evidently, this is done just to get us starting conversations about products we don’t want but others might while we are speaking with our friends, family, and co-workers.

People report this but not enough people care.

There are plenty of people who think this activity is an invasion of our privacy and a disturbance of our right to exist without being monitored. Then there are others who don’t care, happily receiving targeted ads all day long.

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“The other thing is, this is just out there in the open. Tons of people report on this. It’s just, nobody cares. We have decided our privacy just isn’t worth it. It’s a losing battle. We’ve already given away too much of ourselves,” Reeve continued to Tweet while linking to an article on how social media apps can spy on us.

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Tsahi Levent-Levi / Flickr Source: Tsahi Levent-Levi / Flickr

Right, but back to the situation with your mother’s toothpaste, please.

You can block an apps’ tracking of you.

“Apple’s latest updates let you block apps’ tracking and Facebook is MAD. They’re BEGGING you to just press accept and go back to business as usual,” Reeve continued to Tweet.

Reeve would continue to implore people to block these apps’ ability to track you.

What can you do to protect your online privacy?

Experts recommend that to protect your online privacy you should never give away personal details online, use a virtual private network, and browse in private browser settings.

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Pixabay/Pexels Source: Pixabay/Pexels

In order to prevent apps and social media from collecting data on you and people you know, experts recommend selecting the option to block an app’s ability to track your data.

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Source: RobertGReeve/Newsweek/Consumer Reports