1984, but not as we Expected

Scrolling through Facebook on my phone this morning I can across another article about death. I've been seeing articles about death popping up on my news feed with a seemingly increasing regularity since I started posting blog entries from Blogging From the Boot Heel about cancer and death. At first I shrugged it off and chalked it up to random coincidence, or being sensitive to the topic since I'm on that road myself. Then I realized that there is another possibility, Facebook's' algorithm that analyzes my postings, comments, clicks, etc. has picked up on the death and dying issue and is reflecting that issue in suggested posts it presents me.

I should have realized that companies are looking at my online activities and while the result is kinda creepy, I should have known that some computer algorithm would pick up on the key words death and dying, stage IV colon cancer, medical decision making, etc. and start to incorporate that information into their profiles on me. I have tried to ensure some semblance of anonymity by the use of a nom de plume, carefully watching the sorts of material I post, and generally behaving in a manner consistent with what my mother taught me growing up. You know, the golden rule and if you can't say something nice don't say anything at all, things like that. I can say that this approach was successful in keeping me out of 2 lawsuits associated with the Sky Gypsies that sued everyone associated with that project except me when all the while I was running the Sky Gypsies blog.

I should say the article in question by VICE magazine was about an article in a British medical journal on the best ways to die and included cancer as a top ranking way to go. While I agree the reasoning in the article, so far, it is still amazing how much companies can figure out about you based solely on your online behavior. This is not a call to abandon Facebook or get all upset about companies desires to sell you things and understand your personal preferences in a way to do it better, but now that I have an idea how much they know I'm tempted to see how much I can skew their results, garbage in garbage out, so I'm including a tag to a topic I would like more information on as a test to see how long it takes to show up on Facebook.


He's another one I just found in my time line.



  1. I also have noticed that the computer figures out what we are thinking about; I say "the computer is alive" and it is a bit creepy.

    I wonder if you or I could put different words in the "tags" and trick the algorithms. Go for it!

    1. I'm trying the idea with "colostomy supplies". We'll see what happens in a few days.

  2. I suggest using "piano tuning" that ought to confuse the computer!