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Mother Of Stillborn Baby Gets Apology From Facebook Then Hit With Adoption Ads

An American journalist -- who penned an emotional letter to tech companies to change the way they advertise to women who experience stillbirth -- got an apology from Facebook but hours later was hit with adoption ads.

At one of the saddest times of her life, Gillian Brockell kept seeing ads on social media that rubbed salt into her very new and raw wounds.

The Washington Post video editor called on tech companies to rethink how they target ads after she was inundated with baby-related promotions after delivering her stillborn son in December.

She said even after she opted out of the pregnancy ads, she began being served ads that assumed her baby had been born.

"But didn’t you also see me googling “braxton hicks vs. preterm labor” and “baby not moving”?

"Did you not see the three days of silence, uncommon for a high-frequency user like me?" she wrote.

"And then the announcement with keywords like 'heartbroken' and 'problem' and 'stillborn' and the 200 teardrop emoticons from my friends? Is that not something you could track?"

The grieving woman wrote to Facebook, Instagram, Experien and Twitter saying if they were watching closely enough to deduce she had been pregnant, they should have realised her baby had died.

Her tweet was shared 24,000 times and the open letter was also published on The Washington Post.

She said social media isn’t set up for grief, it’s set up for profit, despite the reality of tragedy in modern life.

There are six stillborn babies a day in Australia. Each year about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States.

READ MORE: Facebook Ads Vandalised Amid Complaints About TV Spots

READ MORE: 'It Is A Godsend': App To Help Reduce Stillbirth Rates Trialled

The Washington DC-based journalist said when she had tried to actively discourage the technology companies from showing her the pregnancy-related promotions, they kept coming.

"When we... click 'I don't want to see this ad,' and even answer your 'Why?' with the cruel-but-true 'It's not relevant to me,' do you know what your algorithm decides?

"It decides you've given birth, assumes a happy result, and deluges you with ads for the best nursing bras... tricks to get the baby to sleep through the night... and the best strollers to grow with your baby.

Facebook's vice-president of marketing Rob Goldman made a public apology, tweeting, "We have a setting available that can block ads ... it still needs improvement, but please know that we are working on it."

But less than 24 hours after the apology, baby-related products and experiences had been replaced by adoption ads.

Frustrated, Brockell tagged Goldman on Twitter.

"And here's a look at how effective it is when you finally do find the corner of Facebook where you can turn off parenting ads"

"Just came up on my feed. (And no, I have not been googling about adoption".

Twitter also apologised and Facebook has asked to speak privately with Brockell following the adoption ads.

If you have experienced pregnancy loss, stillbirth or the loss of a newborn and would like support, you can phone SANDS on 1300 072 637 or visit their website. https://www.sands.org.au

Featured Image: Facebook 

Contact the author alattouf@networkten.com.au