Woman flooded with ads for maternity clothes after baby was stillborn

Woman flooded with ads for maternity clothes after baby was stillborn

‘It’s like someone shoving a knife inside you’: Woman whose daughter was stillborn was flooded with promotions for maternity clothes on Facebook just DAYS after the tragedy

  • Anna England Kerr’s daughter Clara was stillborn six months ago at 38 weeks
  • Ms Kerr said she was shown pregnancy and newborn content on social media 
  • Ms Kerr spent days changing ad settings on Facebook but still saw related posts

Anna England Kerr, 30, says is being bombarded with adverts aimed at new parents six months after she gave birth to a stillborn daughter

A Facebook user has told of her distress as the site bombards her with adverts aimed at new parents six months after she gave birth to a stillborn daughter.

Anna England Kerr, 30, says she has been targeted relentlessly even though she has tried to change her social media settings to avoid upsetting content – and even contacted Facebook directly.

Days after her baby Clara’s stillbirth, Miss England Kerr was presented with an advert for a baby toy. ‘This feeling just rips through you,’ she said. ‘It’s like someone has shoved a knife inside you and torn it through you.

‘I thought “I’m never going to buy that for Clara, that’s never going to be me with Clara now, I can’t do these things for her” … it sends you into freefall.’

Since losing Clara at 38 weeks, Miss England Kerr has been presented with content on Facebook including an H&M promotion for post-maternity clothes and a Cow & Gate advert which asked: ‘Little one started weaning?’

Miss England Kerr said: ‘The most recent one was an Interflora advert celebrating the role of dads at birth. It starts with the tagline: “Things didn’t go as we’d expected.” Obviously their birth went well because it’s a flower company, but I don’t stick around to [watch] the rest of the video. It keeps following me around repeatedly.

‘I contacted [Facebook] in June. It’s December now. I tried to give a grace period, but I’m just angry now.’

Miss England Kerr, who lives in south London with partner Stephen Boyle, 31, said she does not want to stop using Facebook because it is vital for keeping in touch with friends and family, most of whom live abroad. She also uses the site to talk to other mothers of stillborn babies, who have set up support groups online.

Some of the adverts Ms England Kerr saw included a Cow & Gate post (left) and an advert for a crib (right) 

‘They’re making money off the algorithm that is creating all of the trauma.’ 

Last week the Mail exposed how firms including Facebook harvest users’ data and trade it with other companies so they can offer targeted advertising.

Miss England Kerr wants Facebook – and other websites – to solve the problem, caused by artificial intelligence which automatically presents adverts.

‘Other people have had other problematic experiences, such as arranged the funeral of a parent and then been targeted for funerals,’ she said.

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‘It’s nothing that a human looking at the data would let fly … companies need to intervene.’

Yesterday also saw a US-based Facebook user who suffered a similar ordeal write an open letter titled: ‘Dear tech companies, I don’t want to see pregnancy ads after my child was stillborn.’

In a piece published by the Washington Post, Gillian Brockell described how she had written about her pregnancy on photo-sharing website Instagram, owned by Facebook, and also ‘clicked once or twice on the maternitywear ads Facebook served up’.

Ms England Kerr said ‘They’re making money off the algorithm that is creating all of the trauma’. Pictured are more examples of ads for maternity clothes and newborn items which came up in her feed 

She went on to wonder why the site was able to successfully target her with baby adverts, but failed to recognise that she later wrote online about the stillbirth.

‘Didn’t you see keywords like “heartbroken” and “stillborn” … is that not something you could track?’ Facebook’s vice-president of advertising, Rob Goldman, apologised to Miss Brockell and said the site’s settings allow users to control which adverts they see.

However, Miss England Kerr says she was still presented with traumatising content despite spending days attempting to restrict anything that ‘could have been possibly related’.

‘I did a big purge that was demanding and energy intensive. For someone who’s grieving it’s a really hard ask,’ she said. ‘It’s such a high bar to demand someone if a company is making money off that information.’

A Facebook spokesman said: ‘We are continuing to speak to Anna to resolve the problems she has been experiencing.’

They said the firm had discovered a bug in October which has since been fixed, but is still attempting to ‘improve our machine-learning models that detect and prevent these ads’. 

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