A journalist has penned a heartfelt open letter to tech companies urging them to change the way they target advertising to pregnant women.
Late last month, Washington Post video editor Gillian Brockell lost her unborn son, Sohan, who she announced on 30 November would be born stillborn.
The grieving mum was upset to find that she was still being targetted with ads surrounding pregnancy, and then newborns, on social media.
In an open letter to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and data company Experian, she begged the companies to update their algorithms to allow for women who lost their babies through miscarriage or stillbirth.
“I know you knew I was pregnant. It’s my fault,” she began, citing the Instagram hashtags she used like “#babybump” and the maternitywear ad she clicked on.
— Gillian Brockell (@gbrockell) December 11, 2018
She also guessed that Facebook noticed tagged photos from her baby shower, or her googling things like “holiday dress maternity plaid”, based on the number of pregnancy-related ads she was seeing.
“I bet Amazon even told you my due date, January 24th, when I created an Amazon registry.”
However, Gillian couldn’t understand why the companies couldn’t also take note of the signs that her pregnancy had ended in stillbirth.
“Didn’t you see me googling ‘is this Braxton hicks’ and ‘baby not moving’?”
“Did you not see the three days of silence, uncommon for a high-frequency user like me? And then the announcement with the keywords “heartbroken” and “problem” and “stillborn” and the 200 teardrop emoticons from my friends? Is that not something you could track?”
Instead, when Gillian picked up her phone for a moment of distraction “before the next wail” she “crushingly” saw the same maternity-related ads as if her son were still alive.
She said ticking ‘I don’t want to see this ad’, followed by the response to why: ‘It’s not relevant to me’ only made things worse.