back to article Signal banned for booking obviously targeted ads? That story's too good to be true, Facebook claims

Encrypted messaging service Signal on Tuesday made a show of trolling Instagram and its parent company Facebook by creating ads that incorporated audience targeting categories into its ad copy. The ads address viewers by identifying targeting criteria like lifestyle categories, occupation, geographic location, and personal …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Millennials

    "When I spoke to Millennials to ask about whether they're concerned about tracking, they said, 'We have nothing to hide so we don't care,'"

    I can answer this one. That's because, for those of us that have been in the industry for years, whilst they may know all the device swipes and have all of the social media posting skills they actually know fuck all about IT in general and are attributed with false competence by most people.

    I have a boss who espouses the "nothing to hide" line and I think they're a f*cking idiot. Just pure laziness of thought. You have nothing to hide until such point you realise that something you considered innocent/innocuous got used against you. Then it's too late.

    My kids have been well drilled in the evils of "social" media. It's an ongoing process as they constantly need to be reminded that you don't get something for nothing and the more attractive the free service is the likelier the more invasive it is.

    1. martyn.hare
      Megaphone

      Or could it be

      That they’re all blocking ads and trackers because they grew up at a time where choosing to use Firefox was considered to be “progressive” and where folks were happy to expose their IP and parts of their file system hierarchy to share music, PDFs and dodgy cracked software? Folks didn’t use VPNs either, they had a copy of PeerGuardian to block certain IP ranges and that was about it really.

      It was also the generation where folks would happily get naked on 480p webcam feeds over MSN Messenger, AIM or Skype. The most intimate experiences and early (likely extreme) views of millennials have already been slurped up by governments and big business alike as part of PRISM and ECHELON data collection projects anyway.

      In addition to all that, HTTPS was used sparingly (mostly to secure initial authentication only), exposing every private detail of what folks searched and composed to every single network device each and every hop of the way to its destination.

      Perhaps when folks don’t have a lot [of privacy] left to lose, they kinda stop giving a damn?

      1. stiine Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Or could it be

        Ah, the good old days. Guess what I'm wearing under the coat? Those were some fun times.

        1. TimMaher Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Guess

          Nothing?

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Or could it be

        No, they don't care because they've grown up being trained to be "good" customers, ie. ready to buy the next load of crap.

        In general, most people seem happy with the "nothing to hide, nothing to fear" argument. But, in particular, they tend to find it creepy. It's easy to demonstrate this by reading their public streams and then asking them about things that they may have thought were only being read by a few people.

    2. rg287 Silver badge

      Re: Millennials

      I can answer this one. That's because, for those of us that have been in the industry for years, whilst they may know all the device swipes and have all of the social media posting skills they actually know fuck all about IT in general and are attributed with false competence by most people.

      I have a boss who espouses the "nothing to hide" line and I think they're a f*cking idiot. Just pure laziness of thought. You have nothing to hide until such point you realise that something you considered innocent/innocuous got used against you. Then it's too late.

      Funny. In my experience it's the Boomers and Gen X pushing the "nothing to hide" line and the millennials (anyone 25-41years old) who are more sensitive to this. It is after all the Boomers in the US who have apparently been radicalised by social media over the past 5 years (having spent years warning their kids about pedos on the internet). One study found that the "average" anti-vax fuckwit enthusiast is 45-54 (Gen X).

      Dan Kaminsky recently passed at the tender age of 42 - borderline Gen X/millennial. I think it's fair to say he knew more than "fuck all" about IT in general. Aaron Swartz (b. 1986) was a millennial, so is Max Schrems (b. 1987). Marcus Hutchins (b. 1994) just about sneaks in at the bottom end.

      It is those over 40 who are writing daft and unworkable laws like age verification for "adult content".

      And people wonder why kids don't trust their elders - it's because people are impressionable and gullible fools at all ages. Age does not magically confer wisdom. If someone's a tool, they're a tool.

    3. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Millennials

      What many fail to understand is "I have nothing to hide" is not the same as collecting every bloody metric, cookie, click and search you do so that data can be aggregated.

      Data aggregation is big business because if you combine enough data sets pretty much nothing is private. It simply does not occur to these click & swipe App addicted millennials that security/privacy matters. It is also not just millennials, it is a trait of pretty much all the younger generations who should know better. These are the same people that are letting their kids use social media when they are not old enough because of so peer pressure "all my mates are on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter".

      Why do we have such a huge problem with educating these groups that posting every minute detail on social media is bad and that sucking all your contacts, browsing history and location from every device you have is really, really bad?

      The big Tech corporations continue to exploit this basic failing and have a willing consumer base that are happy to providing then with all sorts of information, either directly or indirectly.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My kids have been well drilled in the evils of "social" media

      I could echo that, but... here, drilling is SADLY no solution / brings no effect. Lots of 'yeah-yeah, old man' (behind my back, soundlessly, they wouldn't dare to call me an old fart in my face, not yet). I can see that in their rolling eyes, I can see that in their fake attention (let's hope he'll stop within the next couple of minutes, and DON'T interrupt him, or else he'll keep going). No, neither drilling, dripping, injecting, forcing down the throat, even gently infusing, or in ANY other way trying to warn them seems to work. And it's no consolation that my little ones are no exception. Yeah, I bet I was like them, when my parents tried to do their bit, desperately tried... and so it goes with each next generation...

    5. lowjik

      Re: Millennials

      I had a boss once who espoused the "I have nothing to hide" line too once.

      I replied "Oh cool - in that case, please can I see your internet history, your bank statement and can I get the long number across the middle of your card and your pin please?"

      He didn't like it - don't worry, he was a d1ck

      It all comes down the difference between privacy and secrecy. He may indeed have had no need for secrecy but he would probably prefer at least a few things to remain private. In some cases you are bound by terms of service to keep things private such as your card PIN - good luck convincing a bank that you shouldn't have to hide anything and that they should pay for your indiscretion

  2. Snowy
    Facepalm

    Maybe ask more representative group.

    "When I spoke to Millennials to ask about whether they're concerned about tracking, they said, 'We have nothing to hide so we don't care,'" he told The Register in a phone interview. "I'd have expected young people to be more sensitive."

    LOL

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A plague on both their houses

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      No, just one house. A blue plaque on the other.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: A plague on both their houses

      What's your problem with Signal?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To be honest I'd feel more comfortable knowing that those who managed a private chat service I was using didn't feel the need to create a viral media event.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ignorance is bliss.

      How are you feeling?

  5. marcellothearcane
    Facepalm

    "Ads must not contain content that asserts or implies personal attributes."

    Then what is the purpose of targeted ads? Surely Facebook *sell* the opportunity for marketers to say things like "the perfect running machine built for a fitness fanatic like you" etc...

    1. Alumoi Silver badge

      Re: "Ads must not contain content that asserts or implies personal attributes."

      You don't get it, do you?

      Ads must not contain content that asserts or implies personal attributes

      You can't say 'Because you're a lazy, fat SOB, here's some gym equipment' but you can say 'Here's some gym equipment you may like'.

      See what I did there? I didn't state that you're a lazy, fat SOB and didn't imply it either. After all, everybody wants to stay fit, right?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Then what is the purpose of targeted ads?

      I think the point is to still deliver targeted ads -- but to protect FB's creepy and intrusive business model, --make sure the targets don't realise how creepy and intrusive the process actually is.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    “The way most of the internet works today would be considered intolerable if translated into comprehensible real world analogs”

    I feel this way about software engineering.

    We just tolerate it because everyone loves shiny

    It could learn a bit from the real world

    If you build a structure, and that structure through your own ignorance, hits you or others in the face in an unintended way. You’re a dick

  7. rg287 Silver badge

    Augustine Fou, a cybersecurity and ad fraud researcher who advises companies about online marketing, expressed skepticism about Signal's insistence that people would recoil if they understood ad tech.

    "When I spoke to Millennials to ask about whether they're concerned about tracking, they said, 'We have nothing to hide so we don't care,'" he told The Register in a phone interview. "I'd have expected young people to be more sensitive."

    That word. "Millennial". It does not mean what he thinks he means.

    When he says "Millennials" he is referring to everyone born between ~1980 and ~1994 (or 1981-1996 depending who you listen to). The oldest millennials are over 40 and the youngest 25-27. It's very nice to be called "young people", but a significant proportion of millennials are thinking about having a midlife crisis. When the media reports "young people" the image projected is of students and those in their mid-twenties, which doesn't quite align.

    Maybe these lazy, sweeping generalisations are why online marketing is so crap.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      @rg287

      Agree entirely, gen X, boomer, millennial - when I see those my brain disengages, just give me a clear, well defined age range.

      .. and info on how they sampled people they "quote" (highly suspect its just made up), if they only polled heavy social media users then sample is skewed as there's plenty of people avoid social media for privacy reasons.

  8. Potemkine! Silver badge
    Pint

    Could you please tell Signal...

    ... I love them?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not unusual that an advertiser would get blocked for an unspecified reason

    as in real world police can 'ask' you to stop and 'have a chat' and show what's in your pockets or 'ask' you to give them your dna, all because you're deemed to 'have behaved in a manner that was considered suspicious'. Oh, and that old chestnut, steamroll your privates, digital and real, in the [undislosed] interest of national security...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We have nothing to hide so we don't care

    there's a good reason so much attention is focused on young and very young people. They're not stupid per se, but they're definitely inexperienced (at the same time believing they already know everything). Unfortunately they are 'stupid' in the sense that you can't fast forward the process of "knowing everything", this comes with time and practice, lots of time, lots of practice. The advertisers DESPERATELY want to get to them before the young ones gather this experience, start joining the dots and start suspecting, never mind realizing they're truly fucked. By which time, obviously, it WILL be too late, i.e. all their data, habits, hobbies, jobs, holidays, pals and enemies, all that will have been gathered and analyzed, sold, re-sold, and used and re-used to sell more, and more crap to those people. By that time, they will definitely have NOTHING to hide...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not unusual that an advertiser would get blocked for an unspecified reason,

    well, which business wants to share information how it shears its 'valuable business partners'?! :)

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