LXXV – Pop(-Up) Goes the Weasel(-y Ads)

Everyone has used the Internet at one point or another. Most people have used social media at some point, be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or the myriad of other sites/apps. As useful as these social media platforms are, they have their downsides.

First one, ads. Lots of ads. Many of these ads seemingly come from, for example on Facebook, random thoughts or conversations about a random topic. How many times have you heard about someone simply mentioning something in some obscure conversation, and within the day there’s a targeted ad about said topic. So, in Facebook and Messenger’s plethora of required permissions to download the apps, does that give good ole “Marky Z” access to spy on us, for the purpose of targeting ads to us? It wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Hell, there are security experts who say that you should stick a piece of masking tape over your laptop camera, since they say hackers can access your laptop webcam without the little indicator light turning on. Also, many so-called “smart TV” cameras are listening to us and recording everything😱. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if these “smart speakers” are spying on us. Just one of many ways Big Brother is watching👀.

Another Internet annoyance: pop-ups. More ridiculous ways of attacking us online. Ads that pop up out of nowhere, sometimes attempting to hijack our computers for payment (known as ransomware). You can get those, especially if you go to certain malevolent sites, principally those that offer sexually-explicit content. It’s no secret that many pornographic websites use all sorts of ads and mischievous tricks to earn money or infect your computer with viruses, malware and other dastardly things. I suppose you could say that by visiting one of these ne’er-do-well sites, you’re exposing your computer to some kind of STD as well🤔. One time, in the earlier days of the Internet, a parent mentioned that their kid went to some porn site, and their computer got flooded with pop-ups, and they had to physically close out of some 50 separate windows that opened up. ¡Híjole!

Something else that irks the hell out of me can be seen many times on Facebook. You’re scrolling down, and you see some kind of incredible-to-believe link (“10+ Scary stories of restaurant kitchens” or “Celebrity A and Celebrity B sex tape leaked”). You go to click on it, and you see a new page that mentions the “10+ stories” and it goes into this long-drawn out backstory about nothing to do with the headline. Two-thirds down the really long page full of ads and links, you reach a link to “next page”. Then it turns out there’s like 50 different things, each one presented in a slideshow-type format, and you have to scroll down a really long page before it releases the button to skip to the next page. Nope! If I see something not presented as all on one page, I’ll exit out. I don’t need to waste my time with a damned slideshow. Equally as annoying is the “clickbait”. The landing page ends up with absolutely nothing to do with what you clicked on, or it’s an ad that gives 100 paragraphs of nonsense before getting to the point. One key phrase I see in almost all of these annoying clickbaits is the “see this weird trick in action”, or one weird way for this-or-that”. Nope, if the trick is weird, it’s a trap. Some have seen an ad on some webpage saying “hot singles in your area”. Better run, Forrest! It’s just going to take you to some shit adult site where they’ll charge you to be able to do anything, and if you don’t read the fine print and look at everything, they’ll charge your credit card for a membership to some third-party porn site. “Oh, it’s free to join, we only need your credit card to verify your age”. Uh-huh. Whatever. Can anyone else smell a scam brewing?

While I’m talking about cyber-annoyances, have you noticed Facebook, Instagram and Twitter don’t give you a chronological timeline by default? It’s always “top stories” or what they think you want to see based on their secret algorithms. Not only that, but it seems that Facebook has made finding “most recent” extremely difficult to find. And when you do find it and click on it, it doesn’t go far before it thinks you’ve reached the end of the line. So, Facebook basically is trying to tell you what they think you’re most interested in seeing. Honestly, to me it does seem like when I scroll Facebook, it doesn’t show me very much variety. I’ll see posts from the same couple dozen people or pages I’ve friended or liked. Instagram used to be pretty good about chronological order, but ever since Facebook bought Instagram, it has the same algorithm-type displaying of pages, but with no option to see chronological order.

What is up with Facebook’s “people you may know” bullshit? Okay, usually it presents a person’s name and number of common friends. Sometimes, though, you see a suggestion, and when you look at their profile, it says “0 mutual friends”. Why on the hell do you suggest I might know a certain person, but we have no contacts in common? Possibly worse than that is getting a friend request from someone, with no mutual friends. Um, I have no clue who you are. Kindly go fuck off, would you please?

Social media can be a good thing, to reconnect with people you haven’t seen in years, get in touch with reps from companies, possibly interact with a celebrity (I have actually gotten replies from and interacted with Larry the Cable Guy on Twitter on a couple of occasions). But the internet in general is also a strange place. You can find pretty much anything you want out there. Along with the useful information and good stuff, there’s much more of the dark side. Annoying ads, viruses, mal-, spy-, and ransomware ad nauseum. Not to mention the actual Dark Web itself where on it you can literally find anything, including illicit drugs, stolen Social Security numbers and identities, hitmen for hire, and all other sorts of illegal and/or immoral shit. Shit that can get you thrown into prison with your new boyfriend Bubba, or possibly result in you winding up in a pine box six feet underground. Yeah, that Dark Web is huge, dangerous and (thankfully) inaccessible, unless you know what browser software to use to get there.

There are many things great about the internet, as well as a myriad of things that are super annoying. Thank goodness my blog is not one of those annoying things. At least, I don’t think it is🤔. You be the judge.

Thank you for allowing me to bring more of my words to your selected devices. I hope my weekly posts bring you at least a little diversion from life, and maybe even a little chuckle. Until next week, all of you out there, be safe and be well.

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