As I was doing my usual Instagram creep this morning, I spotted a new trend that caught my interest: people posting long lists of seemingly random things, with the words “Ad Interests” at the top. One person I follow shared her list and joked that items like “shoes” and “cosmos” seemed on-brand for her life. Another was amused that hers contained such diverse topics as “malayalam cinema” and “crystal healing.”
I had no idea what the hell they were talking about—and I don’t do well with FOMO—so I did some digging into it. Turns out, you can see what Instagram thinks you like (via your personal data, of course) and is sharing with advertisers. It’s easy to find your list: Just go to settings in your account, click on “security,” then “access data,” and, finally, select “ads.” You’ll see your Instagram ad interests list there—and chances are, it’ll be weird.
While some things on my list were hilariously spot-on (occult, feature films) others were real head scratchers. The Empire State Building is fine, for example, but I don’t think I’d call it an “interest.” I certainly wouldn’t go buy anything because of it. And Rich Dad Poor Dad? Huh?
The ability to see your Instagram ad interests is not a new thing, but it took off as a social media game after journalist Eric Ginsburg pointed it out on Twitter earlier this week.
Since then, people have been sharing their own Instagram ad interests across social media. The results are hilarious, of course.
In a strange way, it’s kind of nice to know they got it wrong for so many people. How many times have you seen an ad online for something you’ve just Googled—or worse, simply talked to a friend about out loud? I think if these lists were truly accurate, we’d all be screaming and throwing our computers out the window. (Just me?)
But how is Instagram pulling this data? According to Mashable, it’s based on activity on both your Instagram and Facebook accounts. It doesn’t end there: Mashable adds that, “It also pulls information from third-party apps and websites you’ve logged into through Facebook — which, for many of us, means a lot of third parties have gained access to our data one way or another.”
So there you go—happy posting!