Now that’s spooky!

Every so often something happens on my phone that makes me wonder just what is happening, who has access or who is listening and what ‘they’ do with that data.

In the past, I’ve had instances where I start seeing ads for something I’ve just been talking about. The ads appear in search results on social media, and I know I’ve never used my phone or any connected service to search for it. Spooky doesn’t cover it.

Today, I had another ‘woh!’ moment. Despite leaving Instagram a few years ago, I rejoined last year so I could share holiday pics with family. Since then I’ve been reasonably active and have kept my activity and friends list very small and close, and my activity is not connected to work/education/technology. Which is why, today, I had a real shock when I had the notice that ‘[user], who you might know, is on Instagram’.

I’ve checked. I’m not connected to this person on either Twitter or LinkedIn. We’ve never conversed or been in contact, personally or professionally on any platform or by email. We’re also not connected through other people either, not having any Instagram friends in common. In fact, the only time I’ve seen this person’s name is on an application to a role where I was on the interview panel.

So, how was the connection made? Which algorithm found that connection? Is it a coincidence, or something more sinister/spooky? Has there been some kind of deep mining of my data across various devices, networks (incl. when I use VPNs)?

Photo by Ian on Unsplash