I know that I’m not the only one who gets targeted ads whenever I open up different websites or social media apps, and I’m still not used to it yet. I find it a little bit scary that I can pull up a website and see suggestions on the sidebar for products I was just searching for on Amazon or, what’s even more terrifying, that I was just talking about with someone else.
Personally, I see a lot of targeted ads on Instagram, and most of them are fairly accurate to my personal interests. Someone discovered this past week, however, that it is possible to see exactly what Instagram thinks its users’ personal interests actually are—and the results are funnier than you think. Twitter user Eric Ginsburg created a new ‘game’ where users take screenshots of their Instagram ‘ad interests’ and share the results on Twitter using #InstagramAds.
The point of the game is to share how ridiculous Instagram’s ad interest system is. All someone has to do to see this information is to dig into Instagram’s settings, select ‘Security,’ then ‘Access Data’ and, finally, ‘Ads.’ Some of my alleged ‘interests,’ for instance, include Enzo Miccio, an Italian wedding planner, and Sonu Nigam, an Indian playback artist—neither of whom I’ve ever heard of. What is interesting about these interests is that Instagram says on their website that their ads are based on who individuals follow, what kind of posts they like, and information from Facebook (who owns Instagram) and third-party websites.
So, while the ads in your feed may generally be relevant to your interests, don’t be surprised if you see an ad for something you’ve never heard of. It’s not possible to completely get rid of these ads, but it is possible to filter them a little bit. When an ad pops up that you don’t want to see, simply press the three dots in the top right-hand corner and choose ‘Hide Ad.’ It may be a small step to take but, with ads not going anywhere anytime soon, you may as well make sure they match your actual interests.