Head of Instagram Says It's 'Dumb Luck' That It's Serving You Disturbingly Accurate Ads

Illustration for article titled Head of Instagram Says Its Dumb Luck That Its Serving You Disturbingly Accurate Ads
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More than once I can remember talking to my friends about something I’ve never googled in my life (white-water rafting, a comforter start-up, an overpriced Los Angeles breakfast establishment) only to discover Instagram was serving me ads about it the next day. It’s moments like this that make myself and many others wonder: is this app listening to us? But head of Instagram Adam Mosseri says, nah, it’s not. It’s just “dumb luck.”

Lol, yeah right.

On CBS This Morning, People reports, Gayle King asked Mosseri if seeing advertisements for products mentioned in a private conversation meant the app was listening to her. “I swear I think you guys are listening. I know you’re gonna say you’re not,” she says.


“There are two ways that can happen,” Mosseri says. “One is dumb luck, which can happen. The second is you might be talking about something because it’s top of mind because you’ve been interacting with that type of content more recently.” Basically, if you’re into food and restaurants, he says, “you saw a restaurant on Facebook or Instagram and you really like the thing...It’s top of mind, maybe it’s subconscious and then it bubbles up later.”

That still doesn’t explain how ads for white-water rafting appeared in my beautifully curated feed full of dog accounts and beauty influencers after having (1) conversation with a friend, but okay!

Pop Culture Reporter, Jezebel

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I’ll chime in with my own anecdotal evidence too - a few months ago I was watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend by myself. In the show, one of the characters mentions “Kate Hudson’s new leggings line.” Later that night, on Instagram, I saw an ad for Kate Hudson’s leggings. I never googled anything about Kate Hudson or leggings or Kate Hudson’s leggings. I never even said anything about it, but a character on a TV show did, and my phone was next to me. I know its listening.