Facebook is currently in trouble after it was revealed that the platform was used by Russian agents to influence the outcome of the 2016 elections. The crux of the issue seems to be that Facebook is not checking for “authenticity” in the ads that run on its platform. As a result, honest advertisers seem to be getting hurt by “bad actors”.
Signal says Facebook shut down its ad account after it tried to run ads on Instagram. The audience was given insight into the data collected by Facebook and the parameters available to advertisers on the platform for targeting.
Facebook is more than willing to sell information about people’s lives, unless it’s to tell them how their data is used. In the world of Facebook, the only acceptable use is to hide from your audience, says June Harada, Signal’s head of growth and communications.
Facebook argues that Signal could not have run the ads because the company’s policy prohibits running ads that refer to a particular medical condition or sexual orientation. However, it’s certainly possible for any advertiser on Facebook – we tried – to target users with their ads.
tried to target users with keywords Signal used on Facebook Ads, and it worked.
Facebook denied Signal’s claims and accused it of misleading users.
Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne said: This is a ruse by Signal, who didn’t even try to run these ads, and we didn’t close their ad account because they tried to. If Signal were to attempt to run these ads, many of them would be rejected because our advertising policy prohibits ads that mention a specific medical condition or sexual orientation that Signal should be aware of. But of course their goal was not to run ads, but to advertise.
If users don’t know how they are being targeted, Facebook doesn’t care how advertisers target them.
1/2 : These screenshots are from early March, when the ad account was disabled for a few days due to an unrelated payment issue.
– Joe Osborne (@joeosborne) May 5, 2021
Last month, Signal CEO Moxie Marlinspike revealed vulnerabilities in Cellebrite’s surveillance software that can be exploited by injecting specially formatted files into any app installed on a device that is then scanned by the software.
They began their month by demystifying Facebook’s ad targeting tool.
While this will bring Signal some publicity, it will also bolster information about Facebook’s data collection practices that it doesn’t want most users to know about.
To summarize: If an advertiser doesn’t tell the user what settings were used to target them with an ad, that works well for Facebook.
In the news: Twitter acquires Scroll and will integrate Nuzzel’s features into its app
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