Using Facebook Ads to Prank your Friends

Facebook Roommate Group

Most tech savvy individuals are well aware of the vast amounts of data that social networking companies collect on us. Some take steps to avoid this data collection, others consider it a trade-off for using free tools to stay in touch with friends and family. Sometimes these ads can get a bit… creepy. Have you ever noticed an ad in the sidebar and thought to yourself, “I just searched for that…” It can be rather unsettling.

[Brian] was looking for ways to get back at his new roommate in retaliation of prank that was pulled at [Brian's] expense. [Brian] is no novice to Internet marketing. One day, he realized that he could create a Facebook ad group with only one member. Playing off of his roommate’s natural paranoia, he decided to serve up some of the most eerily targeted Facebook ads ever seen.

Creating extremely targeted ads without giving away the prank is trickier than you might think. The ad can’t be targeted solely for one person. It needs to be targeted to something that seems like a legitimate niche market, albeit a strange one. [Brian's] roommate happens to be a professional sword swallower (seriously). He also happens to ironically have a difficult time swallowing pills. naturally, [Brian] created an ad directed specifically towards that market.

Sword Swallowing Ad

The roommate thought this was a bit creepy, but mostly humorous. Slowly over the course of three weeks, [Brian] served more and more ads. Each one was more targeted than the last. He almost gave himself away at one point, but he managed to salvage the prank. Meanwhile, the roommate grew more and more paranoid. He started to think that perhaps Facebook was actually listening in on his phone calls. How else could they have received some of this information? As a happy coincidence, all of this happened at the same time as the [Edward Snowden] leaks. Not only was the roommate now concerned about Facebook’s snooping, but he also had the NSA to worry about.

Eventually, [Brian] turned himself in using another custom Facebook ad as the reveal. The jig was up and no permanent damage was done. You might be wondering how much it cost [Brian] for this elaborate prank? The total cost came to $1.70. Facebook has since changed their ad system so you can only target a minimum of 20 users. [Brian] provides an example of how you can get around the limitation, though. If you want to target a male friend, you can simply add 19 females to the group and then target only males within your group of 20 users. A pretty simple workaround

This prank brings up some interesting social questions. [Brian's] roommate seemed to actually start believing that Facebook might be listening in on his personal calls for the purposes of better ad targeting. How many other people would believe the same thing? Is it really that far-fetched to think that these companies might move in this direction? If we found out they were already doing this type of snooping, would it really come as a shock to us?

Rickrolling remote control prank

This device is a prank or gag that [Eric Heisler] came up with. It will intercept IR remote control codes and play them back after a bit of a delay. The example he shows in the video (embedded after the break) catches the television power signal from a remote, then sends it again after about thirty seconds. This shuts off the TV and would be extremely annoying if you were unable to find the device. Fortunately (for the victim), [Eric] included a piezo buzzer that Rickrolls after sending each code. Just follow that tune to find the offending hardware.

He chose to use an ATtiny10 microcontroller. It looks like it’s realizing its full potential as the six-pin package use all available I/O to control the IR receiver module, an IR led, and the buzzer. It runs from a coin cell without regulation and the circuit was free-formed on a tiny surface mount breakout board which hosts the microprocessor.

Fool me once… or as often as possible

There was a time when posting a fake story was fun for all involved. But in this age of constant trolling, it’s near impossible to pull it off with our savvy readership. Instead of letting you down with a really poorly advised how-to, we’re putting in a call to hear what you’ve got in your own bag of pranks. Consider this another holiday theme and tell us what you’re planning for April Fools’ Day.

As always, we’re looking for your own posts on the topic. We always want to give credit where it’s due so post your prank on your blog or other favorite corner of the interwebs and send us the link. Don’t have a place to put it? You can always start a thread in our project log forum, or check out this for additional spots to stake your claim.

In case you need some help coming up with something, we’ve got a few examples to get you thinking. You can go the route of fake video demonstrations like this Gmail gestures hoax, or the more recent Human BirdWings Project. But those require a lot of production time and a clever seed idea. Perhaps something really simple will go a long way with the roommates. We’re thinking soap covered in clear nail polish to prevent sudsing, or perhaps you want to reconfigure your router to render pages upside down. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Human-shaped planes troll NYC

It looks like a genetic leap has unleashed the age of mutants, but this is really just a few guys trolling New York City with some custom RC aircrafts. The video after the break shows the fliers up close. They’re pretty much full size, we’d guess 5’10” from head to heel. The outstretched arms and body act as wings, while the legs act as ailerons and rudders. But from afar (or even a medium distance) it’s quite difficult to make out the flat surfaces… they look like office workers loosed from their cubicles. Unfortunately we don’t have more than a flight demo to share with you. If you know where to find build info (or any extra details at all actually) don’t forget to send in a tip We wonder if these are the same guy who made the flying hero we posted back in July?

There’s another nugget of delight right at the beginning of the video. A sweet octocopter which looks much like this one was used to capture the aerial footage.

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Prank gift keeps curious hands at bay

gift-prank

You all know that person.

The one who picks up every present with their name on it, shaking it before busting into their best Carnac the Magnificent impression. Heck, you might even be that person.

[Jason] was thinking about how to combat the gift shaker in his life and put together a simple prank that’s sure to provide him some enjoyment when the shaking and guessing commences.

He bought a premade audio module that stores about 20 seconds of sound, replacing the pushbutton trigger with a pair of wires that can easily make contact when the box is vigorously moved. Everything was carefully mounted in a gift box before being wrapped and set under the tree to surprise the eager gift shaker.

We definitely like the idea, since there are a plethora of ways to customize/enhance [Jason’s] work to fit your specific needs. Whether you go with the kitten/puppy in a box theme, or wire in an incredibly loud alarm, your resident gift inspector will never look at presents the same way again!

Continue reading to see [Jason] explain his gift prank in more detail.

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Vintage camera retrofit perfect for trolling strangers

vintage_camera_retrofit

[John] likes making things out of unusual junk, and decided to build something for the sole purpose of trolling others. He thought it would be funny to stuff a new digital camera into the body of an old, obsolete camera, just to see how people would react to it.

He considered several different cameras, including a bulky old Polaroid, eventually settling on a far more manageable Argus C3. The camera wasn’t quite big enough to fit his new digicam inside, so he built a mock body using black micarta. He attached the Argus’ front and back to his plastic box, then spent some time fitting his digital camera inside. He transferred knobs from the original camera to his new false body, adding to the authenticity, before taking it out for some test shots.

You can see the final result above, and we think you would be hard pressed to notice that there’s something amiss with his camera unless you spent some time taking a closer look at it. He says that it works well for the most part, and it’s definitely a conversation starter. People are always puzzled by the fact that he is using such and old camera, and doubly so when he tells them it can take about 4,000 shots before he has to “develop” his pictures.

USB Keyboard Prankster

Being a long time prankster, [cyclonite] came up with this pretty clever hack in an old USB flash drive.

The drive was removed from its case, and the stock memory and controller was removed. On the back, an attiny 2313 is glued to the pcb, while resistors are swapped to work with the VUSB library. Wirewap wire is used to jumper all the needed points to the new micro controller on the back, and a temporary ICSP header was fitted on the end to load software.

What your’re left with is an innocent looking usb drive that, when plugged in, sets itself up as a keyboard then proceeds to toggle the caps lock on your victims computer every few minuets. Classic.

Join us after the break for a quick video.

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