It's no news that advertisers on social networking sites like Facebook employ user profile data to target specific groups by gender, age, and so on. If you have an account on Facebook, you've probably noticed sideline ads for the bands listed under your 'Favorite Music' or ones for the television shows listed under your 'Favorite TV Shows.' Pretty innocuous stuff. But if you identify yourself as 'female' on Facebook, suddenly there are an overwhelming number of diet ads. I find it a bit more offensive when advertisers deem females the automatic target audience for useless diets than when they assume fans of Arrested Development will be the most likely group to buy an AD tee.
After I initially discovered that my being female gives advertisers the impetus to target me with diet ads, I edited my Facebook account, removing gender from my profile altogether. The number of laser hair removal, make up, and pro-adoption ads declined significantly (no one promised me that I'd never have to shave again, I wasn't offered free Revlon products, and Jason and Maria no longer wanted to adopt my unborn child), but there still seemed to be a somewhat surprising number of diet ads popping up. I realized that my profile still stated that I was 'Interested In: Men' (not sure why I even bothered specifying this in the first place).
I edited my profile again and removed my answer to the sexual orientation question. Now that Facebook didn't think I was either a heterosexual female or a homosexual male (on Facebook, you're either male, female, or nothing at all, but that's a topic for another post), the diet ads decreased and I saw my very first sports-related ad on the site. Long story short, Facebook advertisers taught me that women want laser hair removal and make up, both straight women and gay men need to diet, and neither straight women nor gay men like basketball. Facebook advertisers, I already thought you were sexist, but now I know you're heterosexist too. *sigh*
What do you all think? Has anyone had similar experiences?