The ads Facebook doesn't want users to see
Signal, a privacy-positive messaging platform, has claimed that Facebook banned them from showing ads that exposed how much data Facebook collected on its users.
In a blog post entitled “The Instagram Ads Facebook Won’t Show You”, Signal claimed that Facebook banned them from their ad platform for the series of ads they planned to run that exposed hyper-specific data Facebook and Instagram collected on its users.
"The ad would simply display some of the information collected about the viewer which the advertising platform uses. Facebook was not into that idea," said the company in the blog post.
Alex Kantrowitz, the founder of the newsletter Big Technology, shared a response from Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne, who dismissed the claim as a “stunt by Signal.”
Facebook’s response: pic.twitter.com/xhPTVfmLBQ— Alex Kantrowitz (@Kantrowitz) May 5, 2021
Signal quickly countered Facebook’s response, sharing screenshots that asserted that they did in fact try to run the ads.
Signal's response: https://t.co/FAdZdcpgSA— Alex Kantrowitz (@Kantrowitz) May 5, 2021
Facebook countered the claim again, saying the screenshots were not recent.
"These screenshots are from early March, when the ad account was briefly disabled for a few days due to an unrelated payments issue," Osborne tweeted.
"The ads themselves were never rejected as they were never set by Signal to run," he added.
Kantrowitz, along with many netizens, came to the conclusion that they needed more conclusive proof from Signal to back up its claims.
I’d like to see some more conclusive proof from Signal backing up its claims. Fwiw. pic.twitter.com/kFN6E5TsbZ— Alex Kantrowitz (@Kantrowitz) May 5, 2021
Facebook has a previous history of questionable user data handling. Facebook hit the headlines after several media reports emerged alleging that a data-mining firm called Cambridge Analytica acquired private data harvested from more than 50 million Facebook users to support Donald Trump's 2016 presidential election campaign.