Does your phone eavesdrop? Most likely.

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Does your phone eavesdrop? Most likely.

Nov 12, 2018

Mary Cate Long

I am rarely enticed by advertising on social media. This is perhaps partly in the spirit of rebellion. I constantly recognize topics that I've had private conversations about appear in advertisements on my social media feeds. Topics that I would never usually be interested in but were brought up by those around me are the most tell-tale signs that my devices are listening for keywords in my conversations. For example, one time on a phone call a friend mentioned that they were about to head to Sonic's "Tater Tot Happy Hour." Not only are there no Sonic restaurants in the area, I never go to Sonic or eat fast food in general. However, about an hour after this conversation ended, I was looking at my Instagram account and was greeted by a blinking ad from Sonic informing me that tater tots were only $2 at a certain time on Thursdays.

Advertisements that I am more likely to pay attention to are native ads from social media influencers. For example, if a blogger or celebrity posts about a new smoothie mix or clothing line, I am more likely to be interested and check it out. In addition, many people that I know personally are sources of advertising and representation for brands. On their social media posts, they are able to offer discounts and special codes if you buy the products they are representing. Especially being in Malibu, many brands reach out to Pepperdine students to promote their content and items. Even though I have only an average amount of followers on Instagram, brands have even reached out to me to represent them. However, as I think back, I don't believe I have ever acted on or purchased anything as a result of this type of advertising either. Sometimes I feel the same sense of rebellion when I see yet another person I know offering a discount on a brand. It's become so cliché at Pepperdine, which is a big reason that I don't accept offers from brands that reach out to me.

I think another reason dissuading me from making purchases through social media sites is a wariness about logging in card information. I am more likely to be reminded of a brand I already trust or to visit a location in person rather than buy from a new online website.

Mary Cate Long, a student in Jon Pfeiffer's Fall 2018 Media Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the following question: Do advertisements on social media actually entice you to use the products / services advertised?

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