While I see online ads as a necessary evil if you want to keep websites in business, I’m so annoyed at the way the latest ads services seem so focused on ruining everybody’s Christmas surprise.

The ads Grinch stole Christmas

This is what happens: Ads sites track where you go online; retailers track you too and all this information is shared. Look at an item online, see an ad for it on the next page you go to. Not only is this behavioural retargeting vastly creepy, but when it comes to Christmas these things make it impossible to keep secrets, particularly on a shared Mac. Been looking at [insert name of hot new obsessive teenage-focused product here] with a view to buying one to gift your child? Don’t be too upset if said child gets onto your computer to check their Bitcoin investment only to find themselves staring at ads for the object of their desire. Kids aren’t stupid – they know how ads work online (even if we don’t). What’s happened? Your Christmas surprise is spoiled and your teenager won’t believe in Santa Claus any more, even if they are looking for a flat Earth shadow during the next eclipse.

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