One mother shared some very sad and concerning news online after she was bombarded with baby-related promotions following a devasting stillbirth.

In an effort to stop big tech companies from inundated grieving mothers with targeted ads, Gillian Brockell wrote to social media companies, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Experian, saying if they could use an algorithm to determine that she was pregnant by tracking her searches, they should have realized her baby had died.

According to Brockell’s letter posted to Twitter on Tuesday, she searched for maternity-related items and social media posts during her pregnancy before it ended in tragedy.

The expecting mother was due in January 2019. She wrote:

I know you knew I was pregnant. It’s my fault, I just couldn’t resist those Instagram hashtags – #30weekspregant, #babybump. And, stupid me!, I even clicked once or twice on the maternity-wear ads Facebook served up.

However, Brockell went on to make the argument that while the companies focused on her earlier pregnancy-related posts and actions, they failed to track the death of her unborn child. She explained:

Didn’t you see me googling ‘is this braxton hicks?’ and ‘baby not moving?’

Did you not see the three days of silence, uncommon for a high-frequencies user like me?

And then the announcement with keywords like ‘heartbroken’ and ‘problem’ and ‘stillborn’ and the two-hundred teardrop emoticons from my friends? Is that not something you could track?

On November 30, the Washington Post video editor shared her heartbreaking news online.

Since sharing her post, other social media users reported on similar experiences with advertisers. Commenters wrote:

Ten years ago, the amazing hospital where I delivered my stillborn daughter gave me instructions on how to stop all catalog mail, explaining that I would likely start receiving toy ads soon. I wish tech companies could figure that out. Hugs to your family.

The month of my due date, I received a free package from a formula company in the mail with a congratulatory note. I still don’t know how it was being tracked, but it nearly broke me. I had miscarried five months before.

The same thing happened to me on @Pinterest after we lost our preemie. It was awful. I’m sorry you’ve joined this club, but so thankful you’re using your voice to amplify this issue.

Last month, a mother of a stillborn girl wrote in an open letter to Facebook after she pushed a button to hide parenting and family-related ads.

Responding to the backlash, Facebook told BBC the issue was caused by a “bug in the system that has since been fixed.”

Ring lights are magic.

Posted by Gillian Brockell on Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A representative from the social network responded to Brockell’s letter with a tweet.

The mother later tweeted that someone had personally reached out to her about her experience, but didn’t go into detail.

Facebook’s VP of advertising acknowledged that the system “needs improvement.”

About the author

Tiffani is a writer for Dearly. She is from New York City. Prior to working for Dearly she covered fashion news and managed social media for various digital media outlets.

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One Reply to “Grieving Mom Pens Letter to Facebook Following Her Stillbirth — Stop With All the Baby Ads”

  • Jen 2 years ago

    Stay off of social media and mourn. If you need to tell the people you’re actually close with what happened then call them. It’s okay to keep your business to yourself and if ads bother you then turn off your tv, throw away magazines and news… and for that matter don’t go into public. It is horrible what happened but the world doesn’t adjust because of it. Googling those unfortunate word aren’t a selling point for the companies so no they aren’t interested in it. If it offends or bothers someone they can always just log off. Problem solved. Don’t cry the “adjust to me” cry, you can fix it yourself.

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