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Is this the shadiest thing that Facebook has ever done?

Words by Nathan Irvine

Unsocial network

For a company that’s trying to improve its public image, Facebook doesn’t do itself any favours. The latest subtle-as-a-sledgehammer move involves Signal – the direct rival to Facebook’s WhatsApp service.

Signal tried to buy ads on Instagram, which is under the Zuckerberg umbrella. Nothing new there, right? Well, the ads in question were designed to bring to light the amount of information that Facebook gathers from its users. The “multi-variant” ads would show exactly what Facebook extracts and sells without you knowing. Like this…

Signal An example of the targeted ad that was supposed to appear on Instagram

Burn after reading

Facebook’s response? It rejected the ads and closed Signal’s account down. Not exactly a Machiavellian move from The Zucks. OK, this was obviously a calculated move by Signal to tread on Facebook’s neck and propel its reputation up a few notches, but it has certainly got people talking about the way their data is captured and used.

In a fiery blog post response on Signal’s site reads: “Companies like Facebook aren’t building technology for you; they’re building technology for your data. They collect everything they can from FB, Instagram, and WhatsApp in order to sell visibility into people and their lives.”

It continues “This isn’t exactly a secret, but the full picture is hazy to most – dimly concealed within complex, opaquely-rendered systems and fine print designed to be scrolled past. The way most of the internet works today would be considered intolerable if translated into comprehensible real world analogs, but it endures because it is invisible.”

The whole story just brings to light that social media companies only care about cash. And this is generated by selling on your data even if you “opt out” of the stuff it requests.

Recently, Facebook has been telling anyone that will listen that their ads business is suffering because of the privacy controls that Apple’s iOS 14.5 firmware has implemented into smart devices. Users on iPhones can blanket block data capture from any app that’s installed on the device. In response, Facebook and Instagram are toying with the idea of charging those users who deny them the access they desire on iPhones.

There’s obviously more to come from this data capture chaos, especially with other big tech companies yet to show their hand on the situation. This might be Facebook’s shadiest move yet to suppress valid criticism of its service, but it may not be the last.

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