I was only 40 and a few hours old when I logged onto Facebook. Beside the celebratory messages from my friends, the sponsored ad banners had birthday greetings for me too: “Men seeking another chance at love with women over 40.” Thanks, Mark Zuckerberg. Happy birthday to you too. What are you now? 28?

Sonya's in her late 40s. Probably also gets the Hag ads Picture: Chris Pavlich

Over subsequent days the mature age love ad was followed by: “Be the hot mum on walks”; “mum aged 55, looks 29” and “you don’t have to be fat”. However on reflection, these ads may represent more than that I was in Facebook’s old, bulgy, wrinkly advertising demographic.

As brought to cinematic life in The Social Network,  Zuckerberg launched Facebook in 2004 as a purely a social contact site, first at Harvard, then through other universities and ultimately to the world.

But advertising is money. Within two years, banner ads appeared and sponsored invites from Chase Credit Card.The NFP San Francisco based Electronic Frontier Foundation warned back in 2007 that Facebook was planning to use personal data for advertising. By 2008, Facebook encouraged viral branding.

We should have listened. But we were too in love with Facebook to see where the relationship was going. So here we are, in 2012 receiving cringing, low rent, questionable ads promising miracle cures. Does Facebook really think I look that bad? Hasn’t it seen my profile pictures? Everyone but Facebook tells me I look good for my age.

Facebook wants to explain itself, like a badly behaved (40 plus) lover trying to spin how much they really care about you. No wonder we met online. I found their explanation: “Ever wonder why you see certain ads on Facebook? This video explains how our ad system works to show you relevant ads without sharing any of your personal information with advertisers. We think advertising is good for your overall experience on Facebook, and how it shows your relevant interests.”  The video explains how advertisers choose profiles according to broad demographics or interests via keywords.

Despite our history and regular catch ups, I don’t think Facebook and I know each other very well then, because I’m not interested in drastic wrinkle reduction nor am I seeking online dating. I don’t mind the ads generated by likes – at least I see the direct connection and they aren’t so tacky.

I accidentally liked the Virgin Doug Pitt campaign so I now get Virgin ads. And shoe offers from online shopping The Iconic are a welcome relief too. I’m getting sensitive now. Maybe I just need to get more commercial and my ad stream won’t be so despairing. Or I need to get off Facebook.

It seems I’m not the only one not happy with Facebook. While still boasting 950 million friends, Facebook has declined in users over the last six months by 1.1 percent.

Not much when you are nearly tipping a billion, but still significant, nonetheless. In July,  Bloomberg cited a report by Capstone Investments, which found that,  “in the 23 countries where Facebook had at least 50 percent penetration, growth had changed little or in 14 nations, had declined.” 

In May, Bloomberg also reported that Facebook risked annoying more users with their push into mobile ads, which Zuckerberg sees as the future.  FB’s stock price increased when he asserted. “Now we are a mobile company,” at the TechCrunch Disrupt Conference in San Francisco earlier this month. Facebook also flagged taking on Google, as a social research engine and has done a deal with Skype.

To this effect, David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect said on that other social media super-success, Twitter:(@davidkirkpatrick) “Everybody loves to complain - but fb knows if it doesn’t keep changing and innovating, it will fall. This will never stop.”  But hopefully the mature age love birthday greetings will before Zuckerberg turns 40 too. He won’t like it either.

Comments on this post close at 8pm AEST.

Most commented


Show oldest | newest first

    • BJ says:

      06:44am | 21/09/12

      When you are as rich as Zuckerberg, a few wrinkles don’t matter.

    • subotic says:

      12:59pm | 21/09/12

      If you’re not famous at 14, you’re fucked ~ T.I.S.M.

    • sami says:

      02:52pm | 21/09/12

      +1 for TISM reference, -1 for incorrect word.

      Get thee to a nunnery.

    • S.L says:

      06:56am | 21/09/12

      I have a facebook account to keep up with my kids and when I log on I get a right hand column full of “meet single women”, “meet filipino women” or meet Russian women” etc etc.
      Why can’t they have a “meet women that won’t stick their hand in your pocket, can fix their own car, mow their own lawn and won’t complain that you want to watch sport on TV instead of a chic flick!”

    • Fiddler says:

      07:18am | 21/09/12

      they did. It crashed due to not being able to find any females who fit the criteria

    • colin says:

      07:38am | 21/09/12

      “Why can’t they have a “meet women that won’t stick their hand in your pocket, can fix their own car, mow their own lawn and won’t complain that you want to watch sport on TV instead of a chic flick!”

      Well, they could, S.L, but then they could also run dating ads promoting your type;

      “Join our dating site and meet men who will dominate you, control your life, and dictate what you can and can’t do. Won’t wash dishes, change nappies, or take you anywhere nicer than McDonalds for your birthday. If you are desperate to be in a relationship and don’t care about your own self-esteem or even your own happiness, give us a call…”

    • Nathan Explosion says:

      08:26am | 21/09/12


      You can’t have her, I already married her!

      Well, she can’t fix the car, but neither can I. She earns much more than me, so has no need to ‘stick her hand in my pocket’, and mowed her own lawn for years before I met her. We get a mower in now, after the lawn mower broke down. Neither of us like sports or chick flicks, we’re more likely to watch some Britcom.

      I love Mrs Explosion.

    • Elphaba says:

      09:09am | 21/09/12

      I can’t fix a car (never owned one), and I don’t have a lawn, but I can rear plants, put together furniture and fix my computer.

      I won’t complain that you’re watching sport.  I will however, be reading a book though. tongue laugh

      Kidding aside, aging is ok by me.  Life gets easier as you realise what is most important, and what is not worth stressing over.  Bring it on!

    • Caz says:

      09:37am | 21/09/12

      @ Fiddler

      Hey!! Way to generalise dearest!! I’m 40 (ish), female, hate - I mean absolutely HATE shopping, (however have been told that I dress well and possess ‘grace and poise - and I don’t mean Kelly or the panty-liners) prefer to pay my own way, love to cook, can mow a mean lawn, can change the tyre/oil/battery on a car, detest chick flicks and rom-coms, and could watch AFL for-ev-er (Go Crows!!), love to chat about maths, engineering and science, esoterics. I also enjoying adventure holidaying through India, South America, Turkey. Gossip magazines and gossip in general sends me to sleep with boredom.

      I do love sunflowers and owls though.

      So where does that leave me??

    • colin says:

      09:50am | 21/09/12

      @Caz 09:37am | 21/09/12

      “So where does that leave me??”

      Given S.L’s attitude to women, Caz, I wager that for all your detailing of being a woman counter to his generalisations, that he just saw your post as;

      “Blah, blah, blah…blah…CAR…blah,blah, blah….AFL…blah…blah, blah….”

    • Fiddler says:

      10:07am | 21/09/12

      @Caz…. fat?? Or owns a lot of cats? wink

    • Kika says:

      10:09am | 21/09/12

      Coz those sorts of women probably like other women who do similar things… ? haha.

      Seriously though I do most of those things though… except mowing the lawn and fixing the car. I don’t have a lawn and I don’t know a thing nor do I have the brain ability to absorb that sort of stuff about the car. Though I’ve discovered I can kick my husbands ass at taking off snow chains. I was really proud of myself.

    • amy says:

      11:17am | 21/09/12

      because all women like chick flicks right?

      no…they are often terrible terrible movies

    • Caz says:

      11:23am | 21/09/12

      @ Colin

      Ha! Ten out of ten for that!!

      @ Fiddler

      172 cm, 56-58 kilos. Noooooooo cats. I prefer dogs (big dogs more than yappie dogs) & horses. Ex-hubby had the wonder-dogs. His lifestyle is preferable for them - I was travelling a lot whilst the furbies were about.

    • Bec says:

      12:32pm | 21/09/12

      SL, that’s because those women were snapped up by all the good men years ago so never reach the stage of being desperate enough for online dating.

    • S.L says:

      02:13pm | 21/09/12

      @colin…are you really Colleen?
      No I don’t hate women and facebook doesn’t know my relationship status. My point is a lot of these dating (not all I admit) sites are scams that prey on the lonely. I know a professional guy in my area that was taken for an obscene amount of money for no result so it’s not just those who aren’t ( assumed to be) big in the brains dept either…....

    • sami says:

      02:55pm | 21/09/12

      The problem is not them, S.L, it’s you. With that ridiculous generalisation it’s no wonder the ladies aren’t keen. All I hear is ‘whinge whinge, I had my heart broken and now assume all women are bitches’ and it’s a massive turn off.
      ‘Scuse me while I go teach the boyfriend how to do an oil change.

    • AJ in Perth says:

      04:03pm | 21/09/12

      S.L. & Fiddler

      ~ Why can’t they have a “meet women that won’t stick their hand in your pocket, can fix their own car, mow their own lawn and won’t complain that you want to watch sport on TV instead of a chic flick!” ~ etc.

      They do exist, ones with a sense of humour however ...

    • year of the dragon says:

      07:23am | 21/09/12

      “Maybe I just need to get more commercial and my ad stream won’t be so despairing. Or I need to get off Facebook.”

      Or decide not to be offended by advertising.

    • Anne71 says:

      08:24am | 21/09/12

      Exactly. I couldn’t even tell you what ads appear on my FB page, because I don’t pay any attention to them.

    • Phil S says:

      09:47am | 21/09/12

      Yeah. I don’t get the point of this article. Was it to assert to the world you are not a hag? I mean I don’t even see how the facebook ads made you feel like a hag? Seems to me you are trying to overcompensate for some personal feelings you have about yourself…

      But I agree with the other people here:
      A) Don’t look at the ads
      B) Take it as a good joke that facebook doesn’t actually know you (would you prefer they did know everything about you?)
      C) Make the ads you don’t like as offensive. I’ve done that a bit, and currently I have an ad for a game a friend plays on facebook and an ad for Samsung. Occasionally I still get the “work form home and become rich” ads or the “buy your girlfriend and engagement ring” ads but you can easily ignore them most of the time by not looking at the portion of the screen were they show up.

      It isn’t that difficult, but I guess at least this gave you the ability to whine about your age on a blog…Happy Birthday by the way.

    • Bec says:

      01:44pm | 21/09/12

      The ad currently sitting next to my facebook profile is “win a free makeover”.

      OH EM GEE I’M SO UGLY!!!!! I can’t believe Facebook thinks I need a makeover! Mark Zuckerburg is a horrible person!

    • wolf says:

      07:32am | 21/09/12

      “We should have listened. But we were too in love with Facebook to see where the relationship was going.”
      At the risk of sounding smug just because YOU didn’t listen doesnt mean the rest of us were caught up in this too.

    • Tubesteak says:

      08:08am | 21/09/12

      Zuckerburg launched facebook to rate the women on campus at a time when he was rejected by his girlfriend. I don’t think people see the irony in this and how facebook is used now.

      For some reason even I see those facelift ads of women. Pretty easy to ignore. Just like I ignore the ones with porn stars that say “local girls want to meet you tonight”. I don’t really believe that.

      I don’t think Facebook has the legs to last. It is about at the point where it has reached market saturation in developed nations. Only places such as China where they have their own version are possible growth areas. Facebook does get boring and people always start looking for the next great thing. It all depends on whether Facebook has reached critical mass of self-sustainability and can continue to reinvent itself each time it gets boring. Time will tell.

    • Audra Blue says:

      12:53pm | 21/09/12

      Suck eggs to Zuckerberg who thinks he can enslave the whole planet.

      There are those people like me who wouldn’t be caught dead on FB and there’s nothing the site can offer us that will make us sign up to it.

    • Tubesteak says:

      01:53pm | 21/09/12

      I think FB is brilliant for organising things. Much better than making 30 separate phone calls to 30 separate people. Much better than sending an email to 30 different recipients and geting 12 “email recipient no longer exists” or “SYSadmin could not deliver your email” or out-of-office messages.

      That’s why I think FB is so good. I know where some people are. I also know when so-and-so has had a baby. It’s a quick and convenient way to catch up with people without actually having to catch up with them. For introverts like me it is perfect.

    • Audra Blue says:

      04:47pm | 21/09/12

      Fair enough, Tubes if it’s useful to you.  For me it’s just a waste of time.

      I don’t have that many friends (personal choice) so if I want to know what’s going on with them, I just call them and arrange to catch up over a cup of coffee.

      My son is on Facebook (he’s 21) and the complaining he does over the stupid things his friends and his dad’s family go on about….it makes me really glad I’m not signed up.  Of course when I tell him to deactivate his profile if everyone is irritating him, he has a go at me for being a hermit!

      Sheesh!  Young people these days!

    • Katie says:

      08:57am | 21/09/12

      Here’s an idea: Get an ad blocker if they annoy you so much. I’ve heard they work!

      I haven’t bothered though since the ads don’t bother me. I get a lot of the ‘weird diet trick that really works!’ ones but I don’t go thinking facebook has an impression of me.

    • rach says:

      09:41am | 21/09/12

      Yup, I love AdBlock!

    • Economist says:

      12:39pm | 21/09/12

      Off topic, I can’t get rid of that stupid consumer group survey/Prize King browser popup. I’ve ran every bit of Malware and have Full Norton, nor can I find whether I’ve installed a program, I’ve checked DNS, popups removed etc. googled solution that don’t work, any ideas?

    • Amy says:

      09:33am | 21/09/12

      I installed AdBlock to Chrome so I no longer get the damn advertising for mothers b-s.  Voila - no more stupid FB ads!

    • thatmosis says:

      11:52am | 21/09/12

      Here we have the ultimate, a person being stressed by an inanimate object like Facebook. Its inanimate and the only thing that makes it real is you. Solution get away from it or get a life whichever comes first.
        Do we really need Facebook or for that matter twitter except to put ones whole life out there for everybody to see and laugh at. Are peoples lives so incomplete unless there every thought? is put on the net as though its actually something that matters to anyone but themselves. Do they really believe that their “friends” on these pages really give a stuff about the trivialities of their dreary lives that are posted with such fervour.

    • Roy says:

      12:16pm | 21/09/12

      AdBlockPlus is the answer, no more nagging ads from Facebook or anyone, it’s really nice to see the uncluttered pages and save on bandwidth too, win win! BTW, I’m not an employee or reseller of ABP and it’s free too! What are you waiting for?

    • Renee says:

      12:18pm | 21/09/12

      I Had to laugh. I changed my status to in a relationship and engagement ring and pregnancy test kits came up.

      If only it were that simple Mark. If only.

      26, childless, manless and still engagement ringless thanks Mark.

    • Bec says:

      01:56pm | 21/09/12

      That happened to me too - wedding related advertisements everywhere! It’s nice to know that Facebook believes in my relationship.

    • Blackadder says:

      04:32pm | 21/09/12

      My status is ‘married’. Yet my page always contains at least one freaking dating site ad, which I’ve never visited nor have any intent to. Absolutely ridiculous. I know a few mates use them, but doesn’t mean I will. A pity FB doesn’t have a few ‘smarts’ built into it…

    • Jimmy says:

      12:36pm | 21/09/12

      The only thing Facebook has done is expose all the stupid people in the world. It doesn’t matter if you’re private, if your name comes up in a search, that alone speaks volumes.

    • Meh says:

      02:39pm | 21/09/12

      When I put my full name (with middle name) into google I get 46,700 results and I don’t even have FB.

      If you don’t get results then you have a really weird arse name.

    • Audra Blue says:

      12:46pm | 21/09/12

      Facebook is a waist of time and energy and you deserve everything you get if you’re one of those people who can’t live without it.

    • Anna says:

      01:37pm | 21/09/12

      I get the ads telling me I could look 27, which is bizarre because why would I want to look *older*? I think their age-targetting could be a bit better!
      I prefer targetted advertising - better something I’m interested in than something I’d never be. Advertising is a two-way street.

    • Swamp Thing says:

      03:21pm | 21/09/12

      Yeah - how about those ads for “retirement villiages” spruiked for the “over 45s”, they make me crack the shits!
      Just thinking about it nearly gets me raging as hard as a moslem!!

    • Swamp Thing says:

      03:22pm | 21/09/12

      Oh and Kezza - you don’t look 40 so don’t worry about it!


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