Design
Erin Hammond and Jameelah Nuriddin

The American flag has been a symbol of the United States for centuries, but what the U.S.—and thus the flag it represents—has meant to different Americans throughout that time has varied greatly.

Imagine looking at the flag of a country that enslaved you ancestors, generation after generation after generation. Imagine looking at the flag of a country that pushed you and your family off your land and broke every promise it made to your people. Imagine looking at the flag of a country where people who look like you have never truly been free in the way other Americans are.

When your country has repeatedly disappointed, failed, or actively harmed people who look like you, how do you find pride and hope in its symbol?

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Mozilla
True
Firefox

When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

Within just a few hours of finding out the news, I was being bombarded with ads for baby gear, baby clothes and diapers on Facebook, Instagram and pretty much any other site I visited — be it my phone or on my computer.

Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

When online advertising seems to know us this well, it begs the question: are our phones listening to us?

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