A startling new report from the Russian LGBT Network highlights just how bad the crackdown on gay, lesbian, and bisexual people in Chechnya has gotten in recent months. As the reported number of people who've been detained or killed for suspicion of being LGBTQ skyrockets, it's hard to know what can be done to help. Making matters worse, details are few and far between, with even the new Russian LGBT Network report admitting it's hard to understand the full scope of the assault for certain.

What we do have are stories, like the one a gay Chechen man shared at Meduza back in April, which comes to life in a haunting new video.

Titled "Unable to breathe," the animated short follows the unnamed man as he's arrested for suspicion of homosexuality, physically and mentally tortured for a week without food or water, and eventually flees the country, forced to leave his family behind. (The subtitles are a bit small, so you may want to watch this full screen.)

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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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