Hundreds of Syrians, many of them children, were the victims of an unconscionable chemical attack — carried out by their own government — on April 4, 2017.

The attack was orchestrated under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to U.S. officials, and has killed at least 70 people and injured hundreds more in the northern rebel-backed Idlib province, CNN reports.

The attack was particularly gruesome. The chemicals released possibly contained a nerve agent and other illegal substances that caused victims to gasp for air, writhe uncontrollably, and foam at the mouth while struggling to survive, rescue workers have reported, according to the New York Times.

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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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