Support on social media

I’m happy with you using my data as long as you don’t use it to make me cry.  

It’s just a fact that a lot of our lives also take place online. Instagram knows how you like your coffee and what kind of holiday you like, Google knows where you are and who you talk to and Facebook and Amazon probably knew you were having a baby before you’d told all your close friends.

Which is fine. Usually. You’ll probably need some the baby bottles, blankets and gadgets you’ll be advertised. You’ll probably click on a few ads, you’ll almost certainly buy something.

But when you lose a child, there’s no way to get them to stop. Not immediately. It’ll slowly decrease over time but during the most painful time for you, you will still be being bombarded with images of what you so desperately wanted. We need these platforms because being able to talk to people is important. It lets you stay in touch with friends even on days that you just can’t leave the house. You find strength in support groups of people who are going through the same thing.  Being able to reach out in situations like these is incredibly important to your long term mental wellbeing. But when I’d scroll through this much needed distraction my stomach would flip.  All these babies and mothers staring out at me.

You too could be this happy.
Except I can’t because she’s gone. 

Suddenly my cheeks would be wet and I’d put down my phone and search around for something less painful to focus on. 

1 in 6 pregnancies where the person knows they are pregnant end in miscarriage or loss. 15 babies a day are stillborn or die within 4 weeks of being born in the UK. Each loss will affect family and friends too. That’s a lot of people. Not all of them will want to block parenting ads. Some may want to try for another child as soon as they can. But for those of us that need some time to process our loss there needs to be a way for us to opt out. 

Facebook already recognises this in part as it allows you to ‘hide parenting ads’ for either 30 days, a year or forever. However at the moment using this feature makes no discernible different in the feed of a recently bereaved parent. Amazon has no such feature.

Not only does this hurt us when we’re still grieving, but we’re also just not going to buy what they’re selling. Companies are wasting their money on these ads. If they do manage to achieve brand recognition during our misery it’s hardly going to be a positive association. And if we’re ever shopping for baby things again, we’ll avoid them. Because we’ll associate them with our child that we never brought home.

The status quo doesn’t work for anyone.

This is why I’ve written an open letter to Facebook asking them to pay more attention to when people choose to hide parenting as an topic of advertisement.

I’m also going to be writing to some of the companies whose ads kept on popping up on my feed, asking them to demand better of Facebook too.

I’ll also be getting in touch with Amazon to ask them to include an “opt out of parenting/baby items” feature too.

If you want to help demand better for bereaved parents during baby loss awareness week (#blaw2018), here’s what to do:

1. Log into Facebook
2. Click on the Quick Help question mark in a circle next to your alerts and select ‘Report a Problem’ at the bottom of the menu
3. Select “Something isn’t working” from the new menu. (We’re essentially telling them that their hide topic of advertising feature isn’t working.)
4. Select “Other” from the drop down menu and type the following message into the box:

” The hide ad topics function does not work when hiding parenting ads. It has no discernible effect on the frequency of baby and parenting related ads shown to people. This setting is often used by recently bereaved parents in order for them to continue using Facebook without being reminded of their loss. Please fix it. #blaw2018 ”

5. Click Send. If it refuses to send (it might say there’s an error), then try deleting a word or a full stop.
6. Share this information with your friends


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