Twitter | Search | |
Talia Shadwell
Been debating whether I should share this - but think it’s a revealing - and somewhat creepy - insight into how big tech navigates women’s bodies: Last week I suddenly began getting mummy and baby ads on Facebook...
Reply Retweet Like More
Talia Shadwell Nov 3
Replying to @TaliaShadwell
I don’t have children. But suddenly and out of nowhere sponsored ads for baby clothing, children’s books and pregnancy heath were cluttering my newsfeeds
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 3
Replying to @TaliaShadwell
I shrugged at first chalked it up to one of two things - I’m 30 now and it made sense that my social algorithms might start trolling me like an overbearing relative asking when I’m going to get married
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 3
Replying to @TaliaShadwell
I also have some friends with babies. I wondered if it could be because I frequently ‘liked’ posts featuring other people’s kids
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 3
Replying to @TaliaShadwell
It didn’t overly bother me but it was curious how often the posts began appearing over the past week. And then today I made an interesting connection
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 3
Replying to @TaliaShadwell
Like many women I know - I use a period tracker app. I opened it today and found I hadn’t logged last month’s cycle - it flashed a warning that I was very ‘late’
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 3
Replying to @TaliaShadwell
Because I had forgotten to log a cycle, the app likely concluded I was pregnant and began communicating the information to third party apps and algorithms
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 3
Replying to @TaliaShadwell
I corrected my cycle in the tracker app and just like that - the ads have stopped
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 3
Replying to @TaliaShadwell
I find several aspects of this unsettling. Firstly, the likelihood in future that my technology is likely to know I am pregnant before I do
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 3
Replying to @TaliaShadwell
The second is less creepy and more telling about who designs this technology- it assumed, perhaps based on my age and the fact I used a fertility tracker, that I would be happy about being pregnant right now so began sending cheery mummy ads
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 3
Replying to @TaliaShadwell
The other aspect - which I actually found very funny- was how quickly the algorithms were eager to sell my mythical unborn baby things
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 3
Replying to @TaliaShadwell
Plenty has been written about the strange assumptions of these apps - often pink themed, and designed with the assumption women use them to get pregnant - not avoid it. We are used to having personal data monetised - but this is the most striking example I’ve experienced to date
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 3
Replying to @ArwaM @CCriadoPerez
Thankyou for reading and apologies for the overshare. Here’s an insightful piece by on period tracking apps and surveillance ()
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 3
Replying to @TaliaShadwell
(Also yes I’m aware that by publicly tweeting the words ‘baby’, ‘pregnancy’ and ‘fertility’ in quick succession I’ve probably triggered an excitable algorithm tripwire that’s going to send me endless pictures of women smiling with nappies until I die. RIP my sponsored ads)
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 3
Replying to @TaliaShadwell
Hello, thanks for the insightful responses. I’m getting quite a few ‘just use a paper calendar’ comments. Please consider many women using apps have complex, personal health reasons for tracking. A paper calendar can’t offer analysis - apps can save time, money & embarrassment
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 3
Replying to @TaliaShadwell
Also to everyone asking which app it was - given the volume of attention this has gotten and as a journalist I’m wary of naming and shaming publicly. It was made by a small developer and isn’t a well-known app so I’m not inclined to damage their business without smoking gun proof
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 4
Seeing as this seems to have struck a chord with so many people, I've written about this for the . Sadly I didn't go with the headline suggested by my colleague : 'Mark Zuckerberg stay out of my uterus'
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 4
Replying to @TaliaShadwell
When letting the world know you’re not pregnant I find it’s best to be subtle. Do it on the front page of an international news website. Next time: skywriting
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 4
Replying to @bbc5live @SJBretty
Kiwi accent on the British airwaves alert: I'll be on live at 11.30pm GMT talking with about creepy apps and privacy in this brave new world
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 4
Replying to @SJBretty @bbc5live
If anyone wants to hear me announce to the world when I last had my period live on the BBC, it’s your lucky day. I loved chatting last night with on (1:05 onwards)
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 5
And if you don’t already listen to pop culture & current affairs podcast with & - you should. Bit starstruck hearing these two icons discuss my creepy story on my absolute favourite podcast today. Give it a listen!
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 5
Replying to @NZStuff
And over on I’ve finally made it by New Zealand standards. I’ve achieved my dream of doing something weird enough abroad to be described as “Kiwi woman” in the intro of a news story
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 5
Replying to @morefmradio
You can catch me on with Polly & Grant in just a few minutes. I’ll be calling in from the train from Birmingham to London and standing near the toilets - for authenticity
Reply Retweet Like
Talia Shadwell Nov 6
Replying to @Breakfaston1
It’s been a wild week. Thanks for having me
Reply Retweet Like