The fact Facebook uses user data and often without permission is a meme, but it’s also proven to be accurate through a spate of scandals over the years. It stands to reason that the tech companies Facebook partners with know what the company gets up to but stay quiet. When the benefits of a partnership with the social network strain, those same tech partners could be willing to expose the company.
And so we move to Signal, which has been locked in a battle with Facebook. The argument is over WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging app that has largely escaped the same dim reputation as its parent. Specifically, Signal is challenging Facebook over banning it from running ads on the social network that highlight how Facebook uses data.
WhatsApp fits into the equation because in 2019 Facebook unified the backend across its services. The company pointed to easier development by having a unified system. Earlier this year, WhatsApp announced it will start sharing user data with Facebook… probably the goal all along.
That meant Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp would all be connected and share data with each other. Users were angered because WhatsApp encrypts messages and was seen as private whereas Facebook is not. Users started leaving WhatsApp and heading to rival services like Telegram and Signal.
Naturally, Facebook relented and delayed its new privacy terms for WhatsApp. Signal decided to do something to keep the newly acquired users. As the company explains in a blog post, it run honest advertising to show users how much data Facebook collects from them. Facebook responded by disabling Signal’s ad account before any of the ads were released.
Signal explains why the ads were created and says they were completely honest:
“We created a multi-variant targeted ad designed to show you the personal data that Facebook collects about you and sells access to. The ad would simply display some of the information collected about the viewer which the advertising platform uses.”
You can see in the image examples through this article. The show Facebook uses information from users to target them for advertising. While Signal was prevented from showing these ads on Facebook, those same ads will now be on countless publications around the world. It seems like Facebook once again shot itself in the foot.
Tip of the day:
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