Companies need only to tell the good things about themselves. But sometimes, telling bad things about competitors isn't a sin.
That is what Signal exactly did. The popular privacy-focused messaging app tried to troll the social media titan Facebook and its ubiquitous data collection methods using in a tongue-in-cheek ad to illustrate the practice.
This happened after a coalition of digital rights and other groups launched a campaign aimed at thwarting Facebook's planned privacy rollback on its popular WhatsApp messaging app, and also during the time that Facebook is experiencing quite a few headache following the release of iOS 14.5, which allows users to opt-out of its trackers.
Signal, which does not collect user data, trolls the social giant using a multi-variant targeted ad.
Jun Harada, the company's head of growth and communication, said that the ad is "designed to show you the personal data that Facebook collects about you and sells access to."
And of course, Facebook doesn't like that, and rejected the ad.
In a blog post, Harada wrote that:
"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."
Signal created the ad, which displays some of the personal information that Facebook collects from users and sells access to.
The ad would simply display some of the information collected about the viewer of the ad, which the advertising platform uses.
And apparently, "Facebook was not into that idea."
If there are anything bigger than big on the internet, there are only a handful of them.
And Facebook is among them, sitting comfortably on top of the food chain.
This move angered a lot of users, who started favoring apps like Signal among others, forcing Facebook to delay the enforcement of its updated privacy terms.
And this ad here, was meant to inform how scary Facebook's targeting method is, and how the social media can take advantage of the enormous data it collected, and its huge pool of advertisers.
Signal is simply showing the fact surrounding data collection and user tracking. It wants people to know what is really going on behind their backs, and how their data has become a commodity.
Unfortunately for Signal, Facebook that didn't like the ad, decided to ban its ad account.
It was later reported that what Signal did here, was actually a public stunt.
A Facebook spokesperson said that Signal "never even tried to actually run these ads - and we didn't shut down their ad account for trying to do so."
"Running the ads was never their goal - it was getting publicity."
And of course, Signal rejected Facebook's claim.
"We absolutely did try to run these. The ads were rejected, and Facebook disabled our ad account. These are real screenshots, as Facebook should know."