Facebook Is Now Monetizing Our Sadness

This has been a tough week for me. In addition to my uncle passing away over the weekend, on Tuesday night Harley, my (almost 14 year-old) German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix died unexpectedly at home. I won’t go into details, but I was devastated.

I was hesitant to share the news on Facebook, but felt it was the best way to let friends and loved ones know, as Harley was quite a popular guy who touched many people over the years.

Something I added to the post (which I never do) was a “mood” — I selected “feeling heartbroken”. Also, few weeks back Facebook overhauled their “like” button to allow for different reaction types — love, sad, angry, etc. The news of Harley’s passing received a lot of “sad”, “love”, and “shock” reactions and teary-eyed emojis in the comments, and to be honest, seeing all of the love and tributes he was receiving felt very comforting (and made me teary-eyed as well).

But then something strange happened. I opened my Facebook mobile app this morning, and the first thing I see in my timeline is a “suggested app” advertisement for an online therapy app (“Therapy and Counseling for Anxiety and Depression”):

What the fuck, Facebook? At least you gave me a day to mourn before you hit me up with a “hey, wanna talk about it?” therapy ad, apparently targeted to me based on my recent self-reported mood (if Facebook really wanted to show me a relevant ad, they should have offered me a complimentary glass of bourbon to toast the passing of my loyal friend).

So, be careful next time you add a mood or reaction type to a post or comment. You are just giving Facebook more ways to target ads by letting them monetize our sadness (or any emotion, for that matter)…