Facebook, Twitter criticized by bereaved mother over baby ads

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London– A mother who gave birth to a stillborn child has written an open letter to social networking sites to not target bereaved mothers with insensitive ads and promotions, the media reported.

Gillian Brockell, working as a video editor in the opinions section at The Washington Post, lost her baby at 30 weeks’ gestation.

On December 11, Brockell wrote to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Experian, to rethink how they target ads after she was inundated with baby-related promotions, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

According to her, if these companies were smart enough to deduce she had been pregnant, they should have also realised that her baby had died.

“Did you not see the three days of silence, uncommon for a high-frequency user like me?” she wrote in a two-page letter on Twitter that has so far garnered over 60,000 likes, 25,000 retweets and 2,30,000 comments.

“And then the announcement with keywords like ‘heartbroken’ and ‘problem’ and ‘stillborn’ and the 200 teardrop emoticons from my friends? Is that not something you could track?”

On December 1, Brockell announced that her baby, Sohan Singh Gulshan, with partner Bobby, would be stillborn and she was in the process of delivering him.

She noted that the technology companies should have picked up on this or other online activity resulting from her son’s death.

Instead, the companies remained focused on her earlier pregnancy-related posts and actions, Brockell was quoted as saying.

Brockell added that when she tried to actively discourage the technology companies from showing her the pregnancy-related promotions, they misinterpreted her response.

Brockell wrote: “When we… click ‘I don’t want to see this ad’, and even answer your ‘Why?’ with the cruel-but-true ‘It’s not relevant to me’, do you know what your algorithm decides?

“It decides you’ve given birth, assumes a happy result, and deluges you with ads for the best nursing bras… tricks to get the baby to sleep through the night… and the best strollers to grow with your baby.

“And then, after all that, Experian swoops in with the lowest tracking blow of them all: a spam email encouraging me to ‘finish registering your baby’ (I never ‘started’ but sure) to track his credit throughout the life he will never lead,” Brockell rued.

Facebook’s advertising chief Rob Goldman apologised for Brockell’s experience, the BBC said.

However, Goldman noted that the platform’s settings included an option to block ads about topics the user might find painful, including parenting. (IANS)

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