On Monday, I was just casually scrolling through Facebook. I saw the usual baby photos and folks trying to sell body wraps, and of course the targeted ads. I’m used to that. What I’m not used to is Toyota’s new, creepy way of “appealing” to me that instead made me want to lock every door and never leave my house again.
Sure, the targeted Facebook ads used to freak me out. It isn’t fun to know that people have access to the things you’ve been browsing through online, and it does get a little weird sometimes—you can never discreetly look at engagement rings without having to hide targeted ads from your significant other (spoiler: he bought one), and it’s always awkward when the Victoria’s Secret models pop up on your screen in public.
Toyota, though—Toyota took it too far. Toyota got really weird, and quickly reminded me that the machines will one day kill us all.
There I was, scrolling through the baby photos, mugshots of kids I went to high school with and magic body wraps when I saw this:
If you didn’t know, I’m a Zumba and group-fitness instructor in my nonexistent free time. But I didn’t reach out and tell Toyota that, which is what makes this so incredibly weird. Sure, Toyota probably just found a way to access widespread occupational information for people on Facebook, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to let everyone know you’re in their business via some weird ad.
Let’s break this whole thing down. I’m scrolling down Facebook, and bam, this RAV4 ad starts “loading [my] activity.” Excuse me? What? Who? Me? Then, it loads an activity that I actually do multiple times per week. Again, excuse me? What? Well, that’s definitely me.
Then it really gets bad. This Toyota video decides to send a Zumba tank top down some conveyor belt to who knows where, and then up pops a message about “artificial intelligence” and the RAV4. It then went on to tell me that combining my love of doing Zumba with the RAV4 could lead to “shuffle-robics” or something like that, all while playing freaky, futuristic robot music.
The worst part is, I’ve seen the ad several times since—each time with another activity that I do on a weekly basis.
Toyota, this is not how you advertise things. This is not how you make a person want to buy a car. This is how you make a person never want to leave the house again, while also checking for hidden cameras in every corner of that house. This ad would even go so far as to make a person scared to get into a Toyota, because you’re probably spying on us all!
Then, Toyota, you make it worse by bringing in machine learning. In case you haven’t seen The Terminator, Toyota, machine learning is not a good thing. It never ends well. Today, you advertise about your machines learning my dancing habits. Tomorrow, your machines will be vaporizing me in the middle of a salsa routine.
Godspeed, everyone, for we live in the age of the machines. Until they kill us all, that is.