True
State Farm

When Heather Campbell-Lieberman first applied to teach at Lakota East High School in Ohio, she had one request:

She needed the school to let her students give away a thousand dollars.

In her previous teaching position, Campbell-Lieberman had incorporated the values of Magnified Giving into her curriculum. The Ohio-based organization inspires and engages students around philanthropy by offering them a $1,000 grant to give away to the charity of their choice. Alumni of the program have even gone on to work in the Ohio State House.

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Mozilla
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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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