Signal Phone HeroSource: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central

What you need to know

  • Signal attempted to purchase Instagram ads that would show users the personal data Facebook collects about them.
  • Unsurprisingly, Facebook wasn't willing to sell such ads and banned Signal's account.
  • Facebook's tools collect a ton of information about users — including location, relationship status, age, interests, and more.

Facebook kicked Signal off its ads platform for trying to buy ads that would show users how the tech giant collected data from them, according to privacy-first messaging app Signal.

In a blog post titled "The Instagram ads Facebook won't show you," Signal wrote:

Facebook is more than willing to sell visibility into people's lives, unless it's to tell people about how their data is being used. 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.

Signal, one of the best Android messaging apps, created a multi-variant targeted ad to show Instagram users how the social networking giant collects their personal data and sells them to advertisers. As you can see in the examples below, the ads would display some personal data about the viewer used by Facebook's ad platform. Unsurprisingly, Facebook wasn't on board with the idea and disabled Signal's ad account.

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One of the examples posted by Signal reads:

You got this ad because you're a Goth barista and you're single. This ad used your location to see you're in Clinton Hill. And you're either vegan or lactose intolerant and you're really feeling that yoga lately.

Facebook, however, has denied Signal's claims the company never actually tried to run the ads. In a statement sent to The Information, Facebook said:

This is a stunt by Signal, who never even tried to actually run these ads — and we didn't shut down their ad account for trying to do so. If Signal had tried to run the ads, a couple of them would have been rejected because our advertising policies prohibit ads that assert that you have a specific medical condition or sexual orientation, as Signal should know.

Facebook's Q1 revenue jumped 48% to $26.17 billion, led by a significant increase in the average price per ad and number of ad impressions.