Signal: Facebook is blocking our Instagram ad that provides insight into targeting

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Facebook has blocked a Signal ad campaign that reveals what data is used to serve Instagram ads. For example, the ad shows where a user lives, his or her profession and age.

Signal says it wanted to use Facebook’s targeting tools to let Instagram users know what Facebook knows about the user. Facebook uses these tools to show targeted advertisements to users. It appears that the Signal ads used standard text, with certain variables dependent on Facebook’s targeting tools.

The chat app developer shows the example of a K-pop-loving user who is a chemical engineer, who lives in Berlin and has just had a baby. Another example is a teacher who lives in Moscow, is single and has the lion as an astrological sign.

However, before the general public could see the ads, Facebook Signals decided to close its ad account. It is not clear whether Signal can still advertise on Instagram by, for example, creating another account. Facebook has not yet responded to Signal’s message.

Update, 12:52 PM: In sent a comment Facebook tells CNBC journalist Alex Kantrowitz that it was a “stunt” by Signal and that Signal never actually tried to show the ads to users. Facebook denies having blocked Signal’s ad account for this reason. Signal’s account was deactivated in early March due to “unrelated payment issues.” That’s where the screenshot below that Signal uses as evidence would come from, claims Facebook. Signal reiterates to Kantrowitz that it did try to share the ads and that his account was blocked for that reason.

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