The post, titled 'The Instagram ads Facebook won't show you', states that Signal created multi-variant targeted ads that showed exactly the extent of data that the social media giant collected.
Facebook targeted ads: The fact that targeted ads on Facebook and its services make use of user data is known to almost everyone. It is no secret, and the tech giant has also been involved in numerous controversies regarding the same. It is also regularly targeted by other tech companies for this policy. Now, Signal, the end-to-end encrypted open-source messaging platform has also attacked the Mark Zuckerberg owned company for user data it collects and allegedly sells to third parties. In a blog post, the WhatsApp competitor has claimed that it bought ads on Facebook-owned Instagram to demonstrate the extent to which user data is collected by these services and how it is used for targeted advertising.
We wanted to use Instagram ads to highlight how ad tech invades your privacy. Instead, Facebook shut our account down: https://t.co/RCtGrIp60y pic.twitter.com/NMjz868KTe
— Signal (@signalapp) May 4, 2021
The post, titled ‘The Instagram ads Facebook won’t show you’, states that Signal created multi-variant targeted ads that showed exactly the extent of data that the social media giant collected. The idea behind the ads was simple. Signal used Facebook and Instagram’s shared adtech tools. It created ads that targeted users based on several types of data, ranging from basic information like their location, to extremely specific data like their hobbies, new purchases, or educational qualifications. The ads had a template wherein their specific details were filled using the data that Instagram and Facebook collected.
The only difference in these ads from the ones that usually run on these two platforms is that while other products use these data points to target their ads, privacy-positive Signal created a template that simply informed the users exactly what attribute of theirs caused them to be targeted for that ad.
However, apparently, this did not bode well with Facebook, which banned the messaging platform’s Instagram account for trying to run these ads, Signal has claimed.
A major portion of Facebook’s revenue comes from the targeted ads business, which has come under scrutiny after the Cambridge Analytica scandal made headlines a few years ago. And due to this high stake that Facebook has placed on this business model, it is not surprising that it may be quite sensitive to any threat that other tech companies pose to it in this regard. Facebook has denied Signal’s claims, calling them a “stunt” even as Signal remained firm on its allegations.
FB’s statement (part 1):
“This is a stunt by Signal, who never even tried to actually run these ads — and we didn’t shut down their ad account for trying to do so. If Signal had tried to run the ads, a couple of them would have been rejected…”
— Marty Swant (@martyswant) May 5, 2021
Regardless, Facebook’s data collection ways have been under the scanner for a while now, and conversations around this aspect have only grown louder after Apple joined them.