Friday Rant: Why are targeted ads so bad?

This is not an essay about the ethical issues with targeted ads. I simply want to know why they’re so bad.

Example: Facebook shows me an ad for a new steak house. Facebook, please, I still regularly like posts from a vegan burger restaurant in Paris although I haven’t been there in years, shouldn’t you have figured out by now that I don’t care for steak?

Perhaps a more relatable example: I go online looking for a new fridge. I eventually buy a fridge (offline, actually). Now refrigerator ads keep following me around the web and there’s no way for me to just click on a “thanks, but I won’t need this for the next decade” button.

With ads like these, it’s no wonder people block them. It’s like having an intrusive, annoying coworker: you might tolerate them if they’re very useful, but not if they’re also completely incompetent.


If you want to block ads and trackers on your entire home network and happen to have a Raspberry Pi lying around, take a look at the Pi-hole project.

If you do block ads, I believe you have an obligation to support creators in other ways. Look for a donation button, sign up for a premium membership here and there, pay for articles on Blendle, buy a book published by the author or other stuff they made.

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