My Surname in Online Ad

This weirdly freaked me out as I didn’t realise it was possible.

Scrolling through YouTube an online ad caught my eye as they’d inserted my surname onto the t-shirts the models were wearing. I’ve got a pretty uncommon surname, so can’t be a coincidence.

I know it sounds a little naïve, but is my name visible and what other personal details are passed onto all advertisers?

Is it on your Google account? Maybe it’s through that.

I’m logged into YouTube, yeah (the ad was visible in my YouTube app).

Maybe it just is…?:thinking:

1 Like

I’ve seen that ad before with my name.

Google will know your name, so will Facebook and all online stores you’ve bought from to name a few. So there will be a link with these and the company advertising somewhere.

That’s what I call invasion of privacy.

1 Like

It’s not really because you could use an adblocker. It’s likely that you’ve voluntarily given them your information at some point for this purpose and you’ve not read it in the T&Cs. Because let’s face it not many people read them.

Experian were in the news with this recently for their data selling business, so it could well have come from them too.

We buy data at the company I work for. I could likely get your name, address, how much you earn and all sorts of information. It’s nothing new and has been going on for a very long time.

Doesn’t make it right though.

Still (in my opinion) an invasion of privacy. The adblocker point is an odd one; you’d use an adblocker because it’s an invasion of privacy.

Oh, and that seems to be the YouTube mobile app, so adblocking isn’t as simple here as just installing an extension on a browser. You’d need to use something like YouTube Vanced (if Android), or give up and use the web version (if iOS).

1 Like

It’s not really an invasion of privacy, you might not like it, but that’s not the same.

As Orcat says, you’ve given someone your name at some point. If the model had a photoshop of your head that they’d taken through your bedroom window, then that would be invasion of privacy.


I was surprised to see it in a Google app. Like mentioned above, I can’t ad block it.

I don’t know how the app ties in with cookies of sites I’ve visited etc, but I don’t expect my name to be passed on from what I deem a secure app to an advertising content creator.

I’d always assumed Google used non-identifiable demographic data about me for ad personalisation, so it’s been an eye-opener having my name used.


Anyone recommend a good ad blocker?

uBlock Origin, for web browsers. If you’re after a systemwide solution, have a look at AdGuard. (Tip: if you decide to buy AdGuard Premium, use StackSocial instead of their own website to buy it - they’re an official reseller but their prices are a fraction of the cost).

AdGuard can be run on a network level (AdGuard Home) or device level (AdGuard for PC, Mac, iOS or Android). On iOS, it uses a dummy VPN connection to send blocked DNS requests to a ‘blackhole’. You can configure the filters and it’s incredibly powerful. Sadly, it doesn’t work for the iOS YouTube app, though.

1 Like

It’s scary how much they all have on us and it’s growing everyday!

uBlock Origin for supported browsers (Firefox & Chrome), for Safari, AdGuard is a good option (free version is fine). Don’t bother with VPNs or similar “security” crap that uses fear mongering to sell itself.

It’s scary how much they know about you or can assume based on your online activity.

Google have their own advertising platform where they sell space. So I can go to Google and tell them to show my ad to people who like pizza, who live in West London, drive a car, earn over £40k, own their own home and be really specific. It’s insane how much (and accurate) information these companies have on you, and for those areas they don’t cover, it can be layered together from other sources who sell your information too.

You can dig a little into how much they know about you and try restricting some of it here:

  1. Go to your Google Account.
  2. On the left navigation panel, click Data & personalization .
  3. Take a look at the ad personalisation part. You’ll see it knows your age, interests, marital status, where you shop, devices you use, if you drive and so on…

You might as well drill through the other sections on this page to try and restrict things further too :slight_smile:

1 Like

You use your real name? On the internet? :man_shrugging:

There’s a whole thing of “Oddly Specific T Shirts” on reddit, that are just full of those kinds of ads - auto generated t shirts based on your browsing habits:


Not really that much about me that I think it’s sensitive: I’m male and aged 35-44

Nothing about where I live, my salary etc.

My partner got me one of those for my birthday last year. Very proud of my cool new t shirt.


A source for that information would be Experian, layered with your Google data.

1 Like