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Is Facebook picking up on Google searches? - Input Junkie
December 30th, 2013
01:25 pm


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Is Facebook picking up on Google searches?
Recently, I was trying to find out how to cook farro-- I have a box of Prodotto Italiano farro, and it doesn't have instructions.

What's more, it turns out that there's pearled farro (doesn't need to be soaked) and unpearled farro (does need to be soaked, though one source says twenty minutes and another says overnight.

I tried searching on recipes for that brand, and found someone who was happy with a Cooks Illustrated recipe, but actually seeing the recipe involved a paid subscription, which was a bit more than I cared.

I couldn't find anything about how to tell the difference between pearled and unpearled farro just by looking.

My executive decision is that I will soak my farro.

In case you were wondering, it seems to be an old form of wheat which makes something like a wheat risotto (risotto is made with rice that releases starch as it cooks).

You'd almost think I was fascinated with the stuff, or at least Facebook is now trying to sell me farro. Has something like this happened to anyone else?

At the same time, I consistently comment on and upvote fat acceptance posts, but Facebook keeps trying to sell me diets.

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(7 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:December 30th, 2013 07:48 pm (UTC)
Really, from a certain point of view, it's quite logical: Anyone who pays attention to fat attention posts has a good chance of being fat, and anyone who is fat has a good chance of being interested in diets! You can view the tension between "fat acceptance" and "diet" as a failure to integrate the two propositions, or as a cynical marketing strategy aimed at exploiting some fat people's ambivalence.
Date:December 30th, 2013 11:46 pm (UTC)
A lot of sites share information with advertisers. For a while, it seemed to be limited to Amazon buying ad space on other sites and displaying ads for things you had searched for. Now, it seems that advertisers are pooling this information and running ads based on a variety of searches.
So, I don't think it's facebook doing it directly, but it's still creepy.
Date:December 30th, 2013 11:47 pm (UTC)
And, it seems pretty useless, as the ads are usually for something I just bought!
[User Picture]
Date:December 31st, 2013 12:38 am (UTC)
Facebook tracks you across the web by something like the combination of your facebook.com cookies and the 'like' buttons on so many of the other sites. (Source: vague memory of reading about it online.) I always logged in to facebook from an incognito window, to keep them from making that link. (Google has the same kind of power probably even moreso via its advertising and stats collection for third-party sites. I don't see how Facebook would know about your Google searches.)
[User Picture]
Date:January 1st, 2014 07:29 am (UTC)
When you Google for X and click on a link to site Y, your browser sets the Referer (sic) header in the HTTP request to the URL of the Google search, which contains your search terms. Site Y can therefore tell what you searched for to reach them.

Site Y may host code that belongs to site Z and runs with access to the Referer (e.g., a Facebook button), in which case site Z can combine the search term info with their knowledge of who you are and forever tag you as someone interested in whatever you searched for.

Google themselves know what you searched for and will use it to guide what ads they show you, but will not share that info with third parties (though they can get in other ways, as above) and offers some transparency and control at google.com/settings/ads.
[User Picture]
Date:January 1st, 2014 08:03 am (UTC)
I believe this info is out of date: when you click a Google search result, that doesn't link straight to the target, it goes back to Google, who record your click and redirect to the target *without* the referer. The no-referer bit was fairly recent, and maybe they've changed what they do again -- I don't keep up. But that's my understanding, that site Y doesn't get your search terms.
[User Picture]
Date:January 2nd, 2014 02:48 pm (UTC)
Actually, anyone involved in the ad campaign (Google, agency doing the buy and adnetworks - though often not the site that receives the click) who has an adserver and knows how to do the link routing correctly should be able to log the data and place the relevant cookie once the click occurs. However, it takes a certain amount of processing capacity to ensure that they identify you the next time they see you (on FB for example).

The reason you're seeing it just now is that retargeting on Facebook is relatively recent (they opened up the Facebook Exchange for retargeting earlier in 2013), and not everyone is certified / has the technology to run retargeting on FB.
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