Facebook Ads A Big, Fat Wrinkle For Some Users An invite to a Facebook group led NPR's Margot Adler to take a closer look at the ads on her profile page. What she saw were pitches for smoothing wrinkles and weight loss. Then she decided to ignore them.
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Facebook Ads A Big, Fat Wrinkle For Some Users

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Facebook Ads A Big, Fat Wrinkle For Some Users

Facebook Ads A Big, Fat Wrinkle For Some Users

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Oh, and you thought that getting on Facebook would get you with the hip and trendy kids. It turns out the Internet and social networking site shows signs of aging. A study shows that more than a quarter of Facebook users are between the ages of 35 and 54. NPR's Margot Adler recently joined the site and shares her experience as member of the older demographic.

MARGOT ADLER: I confess, I've become overly involved with Facebook. I have done the obvious things, connected with old friends, engaged in fun and sometimes even deep discussions after putting up a status report. I ignore the groups, the events, the gifts, the apps and the 1,300 people I haven't friended because they didn't leave a relevant message. But a few months ago, I got an odd request — would I join this group: Women Who Have Removed Their Birth Year From Facebook. My first reaction was, why?

I'm 63. And I have always believed in being honest about my age. I love the fact that I'm old enough to have done civil rights work in Mississippi, and to have covered the Pentagon Papers trial. I'm married. I'm not looking for a job. So why hide my age? But then I noticed, as I thought about it, that all the Facebook ads on my page were about wrinkle creams and diets. Whoever was advertising had focused on my age, and on nothing else revealed on my profile. For example, a love of science fiction or birding.

To them, I was just a fat, walking wrinkle waiting to be fixed. So I wrote a message to the woman who started the group. It turns out her name is Christine Solosky(ph). She is 52 and she lives near Toronto. I asked her, why the group? She says, one afternoon she noticed the ads — they were unrelenting.

Ms. CHRISTINE SOLOSKY : They were for, you know, anti-wrinkle, look younger than what you are. And, you know, how do the stars do it, this type of thing. I find them annoying. I guess you could say, there is no balance.

ADLER: And what was the result, when she took her birth year out?

Ms. SOLOSKY: There was an obvious decrease in the number of those types of ads. Now the ads were geared more towards keywords in my profile and obviously based on my interests.

ADLER: I decided not to join the group. I still like my age. And I'm pretty good at being oblivious to messages imploring me to shape up. But recently, I started looking again and I noticed no ads for diets or wrinkle cream. It turns out you now can vote ads on Facebook up or down, and even vote them out. I'm guessing a lot of people voted against those ads for wrinkle cream.

INSKEEP: Margot Adler is one of our correspondents based in New York.

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