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The Great Facebook Marriage Experiment, Part 4: life as a man-who-likes-men - Tactical Ninja

Sep. 9th, 2014

09:02 am - The Great Facebook Marriage Experiment, Part 4: life as a man-who-likes-men

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When we left off, I had just married my sweetie of three days, plantgirl, in a ceremony that somehow managed to involve fluorescent sheep and elephants on unicycles. As such whirlwind romances are wont to do, once the honeymoon-that-we-didn't-actually have was over, the bloom faded fast and after a week, I quietly divorced her.

Funny how Facebook doesn't auto-trumpet your divorce the way it does your engagement and/or wedding.

Anyway, so if you've been following along, you'll know that this move left me a single man. A heterosexual single man. Within 5 minutes of my divorce, I was receiving ads for Elite Single Women In Your Area, Local Ladies On Facebook, and chainsaws.

Yes, chainsaws. I am not sure what it is about being male, heterosexual and single that equals Wants Chainsaw, but there you go. Chainsaws.

I stayed heterosexual for a whole week, because I wanted to give it a fair go. The theme of the week was Ladies, Women, Girls, and Moving To Australia. The ads for Australia were less common than the girl ones, but still common enough to make me think that single men are a target for firms that want to sell one-way plane tickets. Hmm. I have to say that I haven't yet been a single heterosexual woman, so I can't say whether skipping the country is considered to be equally appealing for women, but I'll get there. Meanwhile, it also advertised the usual business courses, cars, and travel that one would expect to see when you're in the demographic with the most disposable income.

But being a straight bloke got boring after a while, so I decided to be bisexual. What changed? Well, I got more ads for jewellery, and more ads for women. It seems that as a bisexual man, you're considered to require twice as much dating, but the dating is still all women. WTF?

Bisexual. I don't think it means what Facebook thinks it means. It didn't matter what I said or did, the algorithm had it in its head that I like women and women only, and Sexy Chicks Want You Twice As Much Now, and I was a little taken aback by this because if you're allowed to specify your sexuality, why is this particular one not acknowledged in the advertising?

Yes I am complaining that targeted advertising is not targeting me enough. At least, when I'm a bisexual man it isn't. *ahem*

So I did what any sensible woman would do, and became a gay man. More straightforward for the algorithm, right? I did this yesterday. So far I have received ads for contact lenses, girls, jewellery, girls, how to get big muscles, girls, holidays, girls, men's clothing, and girls.

So either Facebook is trying to turn me straight, or it ignores sexuality entirely when targeting its advertising. I even made a post to try and jig it along a bit that went like this:

" I like men! men man hotmen boys hawt, men men men booty pecs biceps abs men hairy legs and chests gimme men oh yes men."

I got a couple of responses that made me think. One from the ever-awesome Dr Wheel: "If facebook was really smart it'd detect your frequent changes and realise you like playing games and doing experiments and then advertise qualitative surveying services! Or it'd decide you were confused about your gender/sexuality and had frequent short lived marriages and recommend counselling."

It's also true that both my marriages have been to women, so maybe there are some historical assumptions going on there too.

However, the other message was from a lesbian friend telling me that she only gets ads for men and we should swap. Heh. But this does seem to bear out the theory that Facebook advertising is based on gender and a very heteronormative assumption of sexuality, which you can't even override by declaring yourself.

Which kind of sucks in this day and age.

Oh yes, and apparently gay men need less sex than bisexual men, because I'm not getting ALL my ads being for ladies any more. WUT.

Anyway, I'll give it a few days to catch up. I still have a few iterations of gender and sexuality to go through before I'm done with this, and then I'll declare my actual status and see what happens. But that won't be anywhere near as interesting.

Comments:

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From:fbhjr
Date:September 8th, 2014 10:26 pm (UTC)
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I suspect that rather than a specific setting it looks for some sort of pattern over time. Things you click "like" one. Key words you post.
One post probably didn't change the average much.
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From:kehleyr
Date:September 8th, 2014 10:30 pm (UTC)
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You know I was just wondering today how this experiment was going :-).
Btw... want to add me to FB? I go my by full name there so let me know :-D

So either Facebook is trying to turn me straight LOL
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From:richaarde
Date:September 8th, 2014 11:53 pm (UTC)
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It must be because you've switched your gender and preferences frequently. I think that in the five years I've been on FB, I could count on my fingers the number of times I've seen ads for women.
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From:tedwords
Date:September 9th, 2014 02:00 am (UTC)
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I kind of really want to be your Facebook friend now. :)
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From:tatjna
Date:September 9th, 2014 03:22 am (UTC)
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Excellent. I don't know your FB persona so I just liked your page. ;-)
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From:tcpip
Date:September 9th, 2014 04:06 am (UTC)
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Yes, chainsaws. I am not sure what it is about being male, heterosexual and single that equals Wants Chainsaw, but there you go.

Makes for an early 80s B-grade slasher flick.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082748/
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From:meathiel
Date:September 9th, 2014 05:32 am (UTC)
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*rofl*
I bet FB is just seriously confused by now ...
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From:spotsofcolour
Date:September 9th, 2014 09:58 am (UTC)
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I really love that you're doing this experiment and how it keeps growing. It is both hilarious and scientific.
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From:ivonava
Date:September 9th, 2014 01:43 pm (UTC)
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I don't care about the science, I'm loving the hilarity.
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From:tatjna
Date:September 9th, 2014 10:01 pm (UTC)
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hehe, that's pretty much my view as well. ;-)
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From:jaelle_n_gilla
Date:September 10th, 2014 01:00 pm (UTC)
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I wouldn't put it past Zuckerberg to try and make you straight.

Other than that I love your experiment! Keep going!!!
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From:plantgirl
Date:September 11th, 2014 08:07 pm (UTC)
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Once we divorced I was getting ads for ankle-breaker high-heeled shoes, clothing, job training, and credit checks. I told Facebook I was sick of the ads for job training, and it quit ALL ads for over a week. Yesterday I got an ad targeted at the newly engaged. So I'm... confused.
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From:tatjna
Date:September 11th, 2014 08:30 pm (UTC)
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Because women who have men don't need jobs. Duh.
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