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Instagram seems to block ads designed to expose personal information details

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.

“We created a multi-variant targeted ad designed to show you the personal data that Facebook collects about you and sells access to,” explained blog author Jun Harada. “The ad would simply display some of the information collected about the viewer which the advertising platform uses. Facebook was not into that idea.”

The inference from the image above is that Signal’s Instagram ad account was disabled as a result of the attempted campaign. “Being transparent about how ads use people’s data is apparently enough to get banned; in Facebook’s world, the only acceptable usage is to hide what you’re doing from your audience,” wrote Harada.

It should be noted that there doesn’t 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.


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 that’s the deal. Perhaps if more people knew precisely how much data there is on them and how it’s being used, they might be more hesitant to use social media.


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