What I Get Targeted On In a Day
By Sofia Nikolaeva
The starting point of Sofia Nikolaeva’s video work is the fusion of two datasets requested from her social media. The first dataset features an extensive list of keywords generated and utilized by Facebook for the purposes of engaging relevant advertisements. The second is a dataset of all photographs Sofia has posted as Stories on Instagram over the past years. Bringing these datasets together, the project questions on what basis or input might the AI algorithms of Facebook have come to recognize such an eclectic list of personal interests?
What I Get Targeted On In a Day explores the interconnection between these two datasets and shows that this connection is much more than just the activity shared on Facebook alone. By analysing the list of keywords and nostalgically traversing through her photos archives a clear link begins to emerge. Suddenly the marketing keywords Green Colour takes on a new significance. Only once reflecting on the masses of images shared — and the prominence of green in her photos over the years — does she learn this about herself.
Perhaps every single keywords can be traced back to her visual histories? What I Get Targeted On In a Day presents this interconnection of keywords and images as a speculative Vlog — a single day that attempts to keep up with algorithms that even at this very moment continues to generates more & more keywords for targeting.
- Facebook advertisement policy
- Marketing policies
- Targeting advertising
- Digital Conscent
- Data possession / Data request
- Facebook's list of presumed interests
By removing yourself from a certain category of interests, you do not allow those advertisers who want to show ads to people in this category to include you in their target audience. This does not affect the total number of ads you see. We may still be able to show you ads related to these categories if we deem them relevant to you. *
* (The official policy of Facebook regarding advertisement https://www.facebook.com/policies/ads/)
Datasets that are part of this project come from Facebook and Instagram
Early stage of the project: ANALYSING ALL TYPES OF DATA
As the first step, it is important to go through all the data to understand what information Facebook stores and what types of this information as of most value & can be part of an interesting narrative.
Below is the summary of information types that at early stages of the project were considered to proceed with:
- No data for the section of 'Events'
- My primary location is the city of The Hague
- The average age range of my online connections is described as 'Early Adulthood'
- It is predicted that I speak English and that English is the preferred language of my online activity, however the set language is Russian
- There are keywords based on which the ads are displayed to me online: journey, pain, organic product, money back guarantee, asia, aluminium, vegan, sunday, begging for sweets, the hague, transportation, fashion design, dublin, europe, snakes, russia, jewellery design / 165 keywords overall
- My last identified location is (52.088187519762, 4.2734517699439), which is my home location
- My identified timezone is Amsterdam
- No data for the section of 'Other Activity'
- My search history is looking for the same things over and over: bedframe*3times, drawers, table, tafel, bedframe, drawers, bedframe, drawers, bedframe etc.
- My online activity is associated with locations where I wasn't as time of being online: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Arnhem, Nijmegen, Apeldoorn
- No data for the section of 'Trash'
- No data for the section of 'Voice Recording and Transcription'
- No data for the section of 'Places'
- My profile still lists Russia and Moscow as my country and city
- My online signature is default 'Send from a mobile device' and is in Russian
- The location identified as a 'Labeled Location' is my home address
- There are areas on the map identified as 'Viewed Areas'
Further into the project: FACEBOOK ADS + VISUAL DATA FROM INSTAGRAM
FACEBOOK DATASET 'MY INTERESTS'
Below is the screenshot of the list of 165 keywords Facebook generated and considers them as 'My Interests'. Based on those 'Interests', Facebook decided which advertisements are the most relevant to me
As the list is mostly in Russian, here is the table of all keywords translated and arranged into categories
INSTAGRAM DATASET: ARCHIVE OF STORIES
The dataset consists of 21 folders with images that have been posted as 'Stories' in a spam of around 4 years
Below are screenshoots from some of the folders with images / folder contents are arranged by months
Prototypes & Experiments
An outcome of Part 1 of exploring the connections between the datasets and upcycling the image waste
- The video presents the fictional conversation between me and Facebook, where it informs me of their advertisement policy and the categories of interests that it was generated and subscribed me into
- The video narrates from the past, as the image layer / 'IG Stories' have long time deleted themselves and have turned into an archive
- Showing of the ig stories with a stopping frame in the end enlarged on the thing targeted
FB (1) - Hi Sonia!
ME - Hi!
FB (2) - Facebook here.
- From here ig stories videos and photos start running again
ME - Hi, Facebook!
FB (3) - We consider it important to inform you of the following about our advertisement policy.
ME - Oh, okay!
- Those 2 messages are separate on the black screen:
FB (4)- By removing yourself from a certain category of interests, you do not allow those advertisers who want to show ads to people in this category to include you in their target audience.
FB (5)- However, this does not affect the total number of ads you see.
- Here, screenshots are running as I am listing the types of ads:
ME - Well, that's cool! You know, I see lots of ads of like underwear, laser hair removal, fashion stores, things for home, food like pizza, some special type of deodorant, sunglasses, sports clothes, shoes, for example.
FB (6)- That's correct. Thus, we would like to inform you that you are included in the following categories of interests: Female Panties, Underwear, Depilation, Intense pulsed light, Online Shopping, Coupons, Fashionable Accessories, Snack Bars, Cosmetics, Beauty Salons, Squats, Yoga Pants and others. Thus, you see ads from those advertisers as you are their target audience.
ME - Okay, you seem to really read me well, Facebook.
- Here, ig stories and pictures relevant to the word are running:
FB (7)- Thank you, Sonia. We consider it important to share with you other categories of interest you are in: Russia, The Hague, Friends, Skies, Perfection, Happiness, Green Colour, Orange Colour, Water, Juice, Clothing, Witchcraft, House and about 125 more.
FB (8)- As we have mentioned, you can remove yourself from a certain category of interests.
- Everything ends, black screen and only the facebook texting the last message
FB (9) - We may still be able to show you ads related to these categories if we deem them relevant to you.'
- text that's typing can be bigger, so that it's easier to read
- facebook icon not cropped? full conversation window is better
- analyse the timeline, what can be shortened?
- make the relationship between the images and the categories more extreme, imagine more
B (1) - Hi Sonia! Facebook here.
FB (2) - We find it important to inform you of the following about our advertisement policy.
FB (3)- By removing yourself from a certain category of interests, you do not allow those advertisers who want to show ads to people in this category to include you in their target audience. However, this does not affect the total number of ads you see.
FB (4)- That's correct, as you are included in these categories of interests for advertisers. We also find it important to share with you other categories of interest you are in: Russia, The Hague, Friends, Ghosts, Perfection, Happiness, Green Colour, Orange Colour, Self Respect, Juice, Clothing, Witchcraft, House, Darkness, Fashionable Accessories and about 125 more. As we have mentioned, you can remove yourself from a certain category of interests.
FB (5) - We may still be able to show you ads related to these categories if we deem them relevant to you.'
Continuation into Part 2: digging deeper / narrating from the present + upcycling the image waste from the IG dataset
The format of a Vlog is inspired by titles 'What I eat in a day' / 'What I do in day'
- The idea is to use the format of 'In a day...' to show a regular day on life - this is one narrative of guiding the viewer through the day ('Present Time' layer) with a casual content easy to consume
- The second layer / MAIN NARRATIVE is rooted in an Instagram Dataset and is an upcyling action for the image waste from the past
- Below are some raw footage fragments for the Vlog
- Below are sketches of the Vlog, where 2 layers of narrative are present:
- Narrative from the present - the Vlog itself
- Data waste recycling - layered images from the IG dataset