Have you ever talked to a friend about something and then when you go to check Instagram there is suddenly an advertisement (ad) for that same product you were talking about? You may have fallen victim to Instagram’s recent policies for “targeted advertising.”
As long as you are logged into Instagram which browsing the web, the items you are seeing have a strong chance of popping into your feed again later. These occurrences in which items online show up again on social media are called dynamic ads. These ads are used to promote reconsideration of purchases and also show similar “related” items that the consumer might be interested in. Companies can track people’s interests using “cookies” to create a profile for them.
It has been common to hear stories about conversations, where the product shows up on their feed later without any related online searches. The app’s users are suspicious that it is not only tracking their internet usage, but also tapping into their personal conversations. However, the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri released statements denying this, using the excuses of “dumb luck” and coincidence.
Mosseri argues that Instagram is capable of remembering things we browsed, such as online shopping searches or topics we frequently research that we may not have remembered ever even seeing, according to Mashable.com. Although it is easier to believe Instagram hears us, the app cannot physically be listening to each of its 500 million monthly active user’s individual interactions.
Instead of stalking us and listening to every word we share, Instagram simply has the ability to harvest data on us that sometimes we may not even remember ourselves. In some cases the apps we use everyday knows us better than we know ourselves.