It's hard to find positive news in Hong Kong these days. Every day, the world watches with growing anxiety as its citizens bravely stand up against what they consider the oppressive hand of China. So much of that anxiety stems from the unknown: if China cracks down on Hong Kong will anyone stand up for the political dissidents? Yet, that same uncertainty is also the source of some incredible inspiration.

Over one-hundred thousand protesters in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong formed a human chain that snaked its way through the city and up the famous Lion Rock hill, in protest against the Chinese mainland government's attempt at more centralized rule over the city. The visuals from the spectacle, much like the unyielding struggle for freedom around the globe, are impossible to ignore.

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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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