Messaging app Signal created an Instagram ad campaign that would have specified the personal information used to target it.
The details of the initiative are published in a Signal blog. It looks like the independent messaging company, which positions itself as more secure and private than Facebook-owned WhatsApp, wanted to run an ad campaign on social media site Instagram, which is also owned by Facebook. The ads themselves would have displayed the information used to target each individual recipient, as illustrated below.
âWe created a multi-variant targeted ad designed to show you the personal data that Facebook collects about you and sells access to,â explained blog author Jun Harada. âThe ad would simply display some of the information collected about the viewer which the advertising platform uses. Facebook was not into that idea.â
The inference from the image above is that Signalâs Instagram ad account was disabled as a result of the attempted campaign. âBeing transparent about how ads use peopleâs data is apparently enough to get banned; in Facebookâs world, the only acceptable usage is to hide what youâre doing from your audience,â wrote Harada.
It should be noted that there doesnât seem to be conclusive evidence that one thing led to the other, but it seems pretty plausible. The only public statement from Facebook so far seems to be as tweeted by a journalist, below.
Facebookâs response: pic.twitter.com/xhPTVfmLBQ
â Alex Kantrowitz (@Kantrowitz) May 5, 2021
Regardless of the ins and outs of this particular experiment, it would certainly be illuminating if ad campaigns like that were allowed to run. We all know internet companies harvest the personal data we give them for profit, but accept thatâs the deal. Perhaps if more people knew precisely how much data there is on them and how itâs being used, they might be more hesitant to use social media.