Contact: ADVERTISING: Facebook Targeted Advertisements
From: Gaetano Pollice
Subject: ADVERTISING: Facebook Targeted Advertisements
Description of problem: March 30, 2009
Dear Mr. Zuckerberg:
I have been a dedicated, passionate Facebook user since 2004, when I was a sophomore magazine journalism student at Syracuse University. In fact, one might call me an "early adopter" of "social networking" technology. I have witnessed the site blossom - nay, explode - in popularity, applications and innovations during the past five years. In fact, when I am an elderly, lonely man, I plan on sharing the thousands of wall posts with my suitemate at the retirement castle during one of his fits of dementia, to reflect on my long-lost youthful vigor.
But as the site has progressed from a collegiate network where my friends could post photo albums of embarrassing weekend drunkery (as one does when one is young), and I could stalk the attractive person I would occasionally spy in the elevator of my residence hall, I find myself further detached from my former desire to "facebook" people. (Notice that I just used Facebook as a verb. My, how far you have come, Mr. Zuckerberg!)
And why is that, you might ask? Well, I could tolerate my three-times-removed widowed great-aunt finally being able to create an account and post pictures of her many cats (far from the photo albums of my collegiate peers urinating off the side of a porch in Syracuse, N.Y.). I could tolerate the new Facebook design. (Sure, it's hardly user-friendly, but after a month I was able to finally figure out how to change my profile picture.) I could even tolerate my work colleagues attempting to Zombie-Bite and Super-Poke me, in an effort to momentarily distract themselves from their empty, barren excuses for lives. (I never downloaded said applications, as I felt them akin to virtual molestation. Sorry.)
What finally broke the camel's back (or, rather, my back), though, are your fanciful targeted Facebook ads.
Mr. Zuckerberg, I understand your desire to profit from an invention that you created to make connections with your peers at Harvard because you were probably socially awkward. By all means, monetize your idea. Then bone some hot chicks. Then create some more fanciful Internet gadgetry. Rinse and repeat.
But these ads have offended and, frankly, annoyed me. Here are a few I have received: Singles dating ads! Laser cosmetica [sic]! "Impossible questions!" (I still simply do not know what that last ad was meant to advertise.)
At first I tried to ignore them, as they implied I was lonely, unattractive and stupid. Then I tried in vain to retaliate, giving them all a "thumbs down" no matter what the content. (Credit where it is due: I do like the cute little downturned thumb icon. Well done!) But still they come. And this morning, as I posted a note on my Facebook wall, the following graced my line of sight:
Learn to stop hurting the ones you love.
Anger management DVD. $19.99 plus shipping.
I was not angry at the time. In fact, I was in a very pleasant mood. Not elated really, but I was trotting along well enough. Certainly, I've never grappled with anger issues, nor have I verbally, emotionally or physically abused a significant other in my mere 23 years of existence. In fact, in these difficult economic times, I don't even have $19.99 plus shipping to spend willy-nilly on DVDs that aren't pornographic in nature. (And even then, wouldn't I simply use the Internet to watch a movie, pornographic or otherwise, Mr. Zuckerberg?)
Perhaps you meant this ad for a recently laid-off Manhattan investment banker, who can no longer afford his mistresses and now takes out his frustrations on his beleaguered trophy wife and children. Perhaps you meant it for one of the many middle-aged people grappling with midlife crises whom you've allowed to create Facebook accounts. Whatever the intent, the ad caused me to become angry.
Hence, this letter.
Mr. Zuckerberg, I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on this matter. I will continue to use Facebook, of course. But, I must say, it will no longer possess mouse clicks full of potential and promise as it did for me when I was a mere sophomore at a second-tier university.
From: Sales Support <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Gaetano Pollice
Subject: Re: ADVERTISING: Facebook Targeted Advertisements
We appreciate your feedback on the ads you've been seeing on Facebook. While it's not currently possible for users to block all or specific ads from appearing on their pages, we will keep your suggestion in mind as we continue to improve the site.
Thanks for contacting Facebook,
Online Sales Operations