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This 22-year-old started a fashion line to fight human trafficking.

Noor Tagouri has always been one for ambitious goals. This is no different.

Human trafficking is a global problem affecting thousands of men, women, and children each year.

Trafficking is, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the illegal transportation of a person (an abduction, basically) — most often for the purposes of nonconsensual sex work or forced labor. Every year, thousands of individuals are tragically torn from their families, falling victim to this awful act.

Playing cards featuring the faces of missing Chinese children and suspected victims of human trafficking. Photo by China Photos/Getty Images.

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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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