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You gotta give it to the folks who create the algorithms that make social media a pleasant experience for us. Google the same thing enough times and, before you know it, the perfect results pop up without too much effort on your part. The only drawback is that, in spite of all of the spying these programs do, they can’t always be on point, and sometimes the results are downright insulting. For example, since Facebook has gathered that I’m a single black woman, I’m sure that it thought this ad would be to my liking:

So blackpeoplemeet.com is going to show me a picture of “How Does It Feel” D’Angelo (not getting arrested, gained some weight, not recording, peasy beard D’Angelo, mind you) and hope that I click on their ad looking for a boyfriend? Black People Meet, you, me, and everyone who has ever heard of a dating site know good and well that 95% of the men on there do not look like any kind of D’Angelo in his prime. Thousands of hotties, my aunt Fanny.

But we can’t blame Facebook for hosting such crappy estimation algorithms, can we? Well, the site’s recommended pages feature has given me a lot of surprises, along with a lot of insight (at least its suggestion that I “like” Herman Cain a few months ago revealed which of my friends were closet Herman Cain supporters and I haven’t forgotten it). Every once in a while those juxtapositions don’t exactly fit the bill either.

Blame Facebook’s simplistic “like” or “don’t like” system for this, but who in the world likes both Betty White and Abortion at the same time. I can guess how Facebook gathered that I like the right to choose, but even if 3,612 people like Abortion I can’t be one of them. It just sounds wrong. And don’t even get me started on that ambiguous picture.

I don’t want to make Facebook take all of the blame because I use plenty of other sites that take advantage of my online actions to facilitate my internet usage. Netflix is usually great at this (but suspicious, since it included Madea Goes To Jail in the Black Drama category and keeps begging me to watch it for that reason). But the morning after a late-night viewing of one of my favorite old movies I was greeted with this suggestion the next day:

So what are you trying to say Netflix? That people who watched The Women of Brewster Place need some pilates (unlikely) or that the people who watched it are actually viewing some low-budget pilates video often enough that your algorithm just knows I will want to do so also (even more unlikely)? Because the last thing I want to do after contemplating tearing down that wall is worry about how to get tighter buns and abs. I think they need to work on that one. I’m just saying.

Have you been done wrong by social media algorithms? Sound off in the comments!

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  • AustralianGirl

    I just turned 34 a few days ago (feeling old!)…. anyways, I CONSTANTLY get this ad:
    ’55 year old woman uses this miracle cream, she now looks 35!’.

    How old do you think I am, google?

    • @ AustralianGirl,

      Happy belated bornday! Please hug the kangaroos for me, do you have one?!looool.

  • AustralianGirl

    thanks African Mami! Yes I have a kangaroo right next to me as I type, it passes on its greetings :-)

  • Nikeeta

    Ha! This is was s funny and true. For a very long period of time these algorithms were trying to get me to convert to Mormonism. I kept getting ads on Facebook and YouTube on the regular! This algorithm should have computed that, crazy mythology aside, my black ass is not about to be playing with no religion that just started lettin’ black folks join its ranks in 1978. Calculate that!

  • This post was HILARIOUS! I literally could not read the page because my eyes were watering so bad….

  • I am going to give a talk to seniors on technology…not in h.s.— in age. Anyway, I was googling “why social media” and found you… and found your discussion too good to pass up. I’m happily married over 41 years, white, woman, interested in a wide range of things from art to computers. I get ads all the time for finding men. I rarely see an ad that interests me. I think the algorithms are flawed, they are probably written by geek guys who try to guess what we women want… thus, it’s mostly about hooking up, cuz that’s what they want. I want to know the best toilet paper— doesn’t fall apart when wet, not too expensive and can substitute for kleenex when I need a quick nose blow or eye makeup removed. I want to know how to get my husband to be more agreeable about house chores. There are things that would get me to click on the ads, but so far most of the ones I see have NO appeal to me. I find the discussion about religion interesting. So far I have not been pitched religion. Don’t know if I don’t present as needing it or having it. Way back in the early 80’s when the internet phenom was just starting I read that over 90% of the traffic that made money was on sites that promoted sexual content. Hooking folks up for dates seems a “G” rated way to test the waters for a sexual connections; and I think they hope to generate money on dating sites or related media. (Just this one woman’s opinion.)