Signal Unveils Facebook's Attempts At Harvesting Personal User Data For Targeted Advertising

Having actively established competition against WhatsApp, Signal is now looking to duke it out with Facebook over the latter's data harvesting policies.

Signal is steadily becoming a recognizable name across the globe. While its rise was certainly a slow one, with WhatsApp having more or less covered the marketplace as an undefeated source of online communication, the times are a changing. The Facebook owned social media application came under heavy fire earlier this year when it attempted to partake in advertiser-friendly data from its users. Rather angered by the attempt, and incensed by WhatsApp's public parading of the changes as non-negotiable, many jumped ship to go search for other prospects.

This led many users to two applications that were gaining quiet prominence. One of them is called Telegram, and the other is our subject for today, Signal. Almost overnight, both platforms had numbers shooting up by the thousands. Over the course of January 2021, Signal amassed 7.5 million users, and Telegram gained 25 million! With word of mouth carrying conversation and downloads faster than any amount of advertising possibly could, WhatsApp found itself in a tricky place.

Most of this was owed to Signal's policies, which also forms our subject of discussion. Signal proudly touts its non-infringement policies. Simply put, the platform is built upon the idea that a user's personal data, no matter how insignificant, is strictly theirs. No exceptions. While this alone is enough to entice users leaving WhatsApp, further news also revealed that Signal also possesses the very same end-to-end chat encryption that the former only recently integrated. Ouch.

Recently, Signal’s devs have authored a lengthy blog post highlighting an ad campaign regarding how unsafe targeted advertising is. Intending on running the ads across Instagram, Signal was highlighting how information harvested for targeted ads could very easily provide access to a user's location, sexual preferences, hobbies, and search history. These ads were then rejected by Facebook, who also banned the former's account from the platform. And just like that, we have ourselves a stand-off. Signal, in retaliation, chose to post examples of the advertisements on its blog. The post further reiterated the grave danger to personal liberty and privacy that Big Tech companies such as Facebook posed. By having actively propagated a marketplace where targeted ads thrive, the social network and its peers have caused their userbase much harm.

This isn’t the only pushback Facebook's receiving either. Other than a US Congressional hearing on the matter, fellow tech companies have also contested Mark Zuckerberg on accounts of data harvesting. Apple's recent iOS 14 launched a bitter argument between the two, revealing a Tracking and Transparency feature that actively allowed iPhone users to stop sharing any and all personal information. Facebook’s certainly not in the best of spots right now.

Read next: WhatsApp Is Now Sending Out New Policy Notifications That Need to Be Accepted till May 15th
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