Archive for August, 2020

The Scariest T-Shirt I Own…

A while back there was much debate as to whether Facebook was listening to conversations. Let me affirm that without a doubt, they were – particularly, if FB Messenger was open. People would express that they were talking about stuff and suddenly ads related to their conversations would appear in their Facebook feed. Others dismissed these claims as happenstance, and individuals just not recalling past searches and or viewing of related sites.

Let me share my tale, and I think it will settle that debate handedly.  You see, I own a really scary shirt…

But before I get to that tale, let me share a couple seemingly unrelated tales.

TALE #1 – My Kids Like Minecraft!

If you are like me, you probably grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons. Kids these days seem to be all about YouTube. They watch unboxing videos, 24 hour challenges, other people playing games like Minecraft. One of the popular youtubers is named DanTDM. My son was watching one of his videos titled “THE DAB MUST BE STOPPED!!!”. After which my son was running around the house shouting “Dabbing is banned! No more dabbing!” – until finally his older sister told him to shut-up already we get the point. Meanwhile, I was on my phone messaging a friend.


TALE #2 – Taking the kids to see an old friend who was passing on…

(a few days later)

I had just picked up my children for one of my weekly evening visitations [family court sucks, and desperately needs 50/50 reform]. My eldest daughter asked what we were going to do that day. I replied to her that we were going to visit an old friend of Daddy’s who was passing on. With sympathy in her voice she apologetically asked “What happened?”. I explained that I had known this friend since I was their age, and that well they had made some bad decisions, run into financial hardship, and one thing led to another. And we were going so that Daddy could say good-bye to his childhood friend.  (Deep heavy topic for children, I know….)

My son inquired if we would have time to do anything else during today’s visitation. I replied, probably not, explaining that it likely would take up the entire visitation time – to which my youngest daughter loudly exclaimed “THE WHOLE TIME!” and began to pout. My eldest chastising her for being inconsiderate of Daddy’s feelings.  As we continued our drive we passed by a Toys’R’Us, which my eldest pointed out as she asked “Daddy, did you hear? Toys’R’Us is closing!”  I replied that I had, and it made me sad.

This is when the gears in my eldest’s sharp mine begins to put two and two together. She pauses, and then inquires “Wait…Daddy, is this who you mean?”  To which I reply as I pull into the Toys’R’Us parking lot. “Ya, we’re going to see Daddy’s old friend Geoffrey Giraffe to say good-bye.”  Needless to say, my youngest had no problem spending the entire visitation time at Daddy’s friend’s place – especially as they were told that they each could have $40 to spend on clearance items.  My eldest bought a gumball machine, my son a light-up Kylo Ren lightsaber, and my youngest a beginner’s “pogostick”.

Bear with me, this will ALL tie into together. This tale also helps establish the context of the time period this all occurred (i.e. Toys’R’Us closure).

While meandering thru the halls of Toys’R’Us saying our farewells, my youngest her heart’s desire. During this time I was mostly just wandering with the cart waiting for them to finish their selections, watching the clock for when we’d have to leave in order to return my kids home, and chatting with friends on my phone.  “Daddy, daddy, puh-lease…..can I get it!”

“Get what?”

“That!” as she points to the large  display case with a huge plush “Rainbow Unicorn”.

I replied to her “You already have a lot of plushies, and unicorns, and I think the pogostick you picked out is really cool. Besides, it’s probably more than $40.”

“Please Daddy, but it’s a ‘rrraaaiinbbbbow unicorn!'”

As we approach close enough to see the price tag, sure enough it’s well over a $100. I reply to my youngest, “It’s way too expensive. It’s over a $100.” The soft sighing whimpers trail off “…but it’s a rainbow unicorn….” Soon after it was time for us to check out and return home.

The END (or so I thought)

TALE # 3: The Scariest Shirt I Own!

Now, I’ll be honest, if you told me a week before that these tales would intertwine, I would of likely told you I don’t even remember the first one – as I never would if not for Tale #3, which occurred a few days after Tale #2. I was scrolling thru my Facebook feed when lo and behold the following advertisement appeared.

That’s right, Facebook was showing me a T-shirt, with my then employer’s logo, featuring a “dabbing rainbow unicorn”.

Now, let me make it abundantly clear,…

I have never ever wanted a shirt with my work’s logo and a dabbing rainbow unicorn, nor even a shirt with a dabbing rainbow unicorn – EVER!!!

Let me repeat…

I have never ever wanted a shirt with my work’s logo and a dabbing rainbow unicorn, nor even a shirt with a dabbing rainbow unicorn – EVER!!!

I had never ever browsed or searched for a dabbing unicorn. Facebook Messenger had been actively listening while I utilized it. And what did it pick up? My son shouting about “dabbing” and my youngest daughter shouting about a “rainbow unicorn”.  Additionally, Facebook had my employment info from my profile.  That information was apparently made available to advertisers. And apparently a vendor with an AI process to compose potential T-shirt designs thought due to those keywords that I might want a T-shirt of my company with a dabbing-rainbow-unicorn.

I did NOT!

Though I did in fact wind up ordering the shirt with the idea of using it as part of a presentation on security in regards to social networks and socially integrated devices.  And that is how I wound up with what is by far, the SCARIEST T-SHIRT I have ever owned.


In Conclusion…

If there was ever any doubt in your mind as to whether Facebook was actively listening to your conversations, this should put that doubt to rest. THEY WERE!!!!





August 2020

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