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Instagram selling your interests to advertisers
Illustration Marianne Wilson

Here’s how to see what stuff Instagram tells advertisers you’re into

Comme des Garçons (yes!), Ant Man (no!)

To be human in 2019 is essentially to be a walking talking string of keywords, ready and waiting to be seduced by advertisers. But what do the algorithms, and the giant, ominous tech companies that operate them, know about us?

Well, in the case of Instagram, it’s actually pretty easy to find out – as Twitter discovered this week.

Tap the menu button, then go to settings. Hit privacy and security, then under Security, tap Access data. Scroll all the way to the very bottom and under Ads, tap Ads interests. There, you’ll get a list of everything IG will be using to help advertisers target you. 

Chances are, you’ll get a long list that’s part scarily accurate (Comme des Garçons, horror films, LGBTQ+ history, cat lady), part entirely, hilariously, catastrophically wrong (Ant Man, the Conservative Party, Dubai, God). 

So, how does Instagram decide what you engage with?

“We want to show you ads from businesses that are interesting and relevant to you, and to do that, we use information about what you do on Instagram and Facebook (our parent company) and on third-party sites and apps you use,” the app’s website says. “For example, you might see ads based on the people you follow and things you like on Instagram, your information and interests on Facebook (if you have a Facebook account), and the websites and apps you visit.”

In other words, it knows us intimately – and yet somehow, not at all. Deep.

Have fun, kids!!