Facebook has blocked privacy-focused messaging app Signal from running a series of Instagram ads that would have revealed how much personal information the photo-sharing network – and its owner of a social media giant – about people browsing theirs Has timeline. Signal had intended to use Instagram’s own third-party advertising tools to identify some of the exact destinations that advertisers can access.

Nowadays it is widely recognized that advertisers can filter who exactly sees their advertisement. After all, this makes good business sense: there is no point in serving ads to people who are likely not interested in your product.

However, it is likely that few mainstream consumers know how much targeted information providers and advertising networks like Facebook have them. They are compiled across multiple online interactions – with websites, apps, services, and more – and help create unexpectedly accurate profiles for each user. These profiles, in turn, can then be sold to more advertisers as visibility filters so that they can further limit their campaigns to those who they believe are the most receptive audiences.

That is exactly what Signal wanted to do with its Instagram ads. Only the content itself would be an exposé of the details in these profiles. “You received this ad because you are a K-pop loving chemical engineer,” read a copy for an ad. “This ad used your location to see that you are in Berlin. And you have a new baby And just moved. And you really feel these pregnancy exercises lately. ”

“You received this ad because you are a general practitioner with a Masters in Art History. Also divorced, ”says another ad. “This ad used your location to see you were in London. Your online activity shows that boxing is yours and you will likely get there on your new motorcycle. ”

The insightful ads aren’t mind-blowing, of course, even if they feel that way in the target category. Instead, the multi-variant targeted ads refer to some of the information that Facebook’s advertising platform gathers, Signal explains. Unsurprisingly, “Facebook didn’t like this idea,” said Jun Harada, director of growth and communications at Signal. writes.

Instead, Facebook not only refused to run the campaign, but disabled the ad account altogether.

It’s not the first time the Signal team has used companies’ own privacy-compromising tools. Back in April, signal creator Matthew Rosenfeld, who goes online through Moxie Marlinspike or “moxie0,” acquired a Cellebrite UFED system that law enforcement officials love and typically used to extract data from confiscated smartphones. Rosenfeld dissected his softwareAt least one major security vulnerability is discovered and published on the Signal company’s blog.

How much information companies like Facebook collect about people is now a hot topic. Apple recently launched its app tracking transparency system In iOS 14.5, app makers must explicitly ask users for permission before they can share their data with apps and websites of other companies or sell it to data brokers. Facebook was arguably the system’s best-known critic, which it said could have a large and detrimental impact on the accuracy of its ad targeting.

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