You Can Advertise On Websites That Are, Ya Know, About Things.

Apple is going to roll out a software update that gives users a choice about data being collected on them.

Facebook is so pissed about it that they are doing that thing that super wealthy companies do where they take out full-page advertisements in newspapers to bitch about it.

Instead of just saying “this is going to hurt how much money we make”, they are trying to rile up “small business owners” and get them mad too.

From Facebook themselves:

This affects not just app developers, but also small businesses that rely on personalized ads to grow. Here’s why. Small businesses have small budgets. For these small budgets to work, they have to be targeted at the customers that matter to small businesses. It doesn’t do a local wedding planner any good to reach people who aren’t planning a wedding. Likewise, it doesn’t do a small ecommerce outfit selling customized dog leashes any good to reach cat owners. Put simply, by dramatically limiting the effectiveness of personalized advertising, Apple’s policy will make it much harder for small businesses to reach their target audience, which will limit their growth and their ability to compete with big companies.

Fuck that so hard.

What they are saying is that the only way “small business” can succeed is by Facebook spying on people and somehow magically knowing that they have a dog, so that the ad platform can sell that information to “small businesses” that need to advertise exclusively to dog-owning people?

Seriously, fuck that so hard.

There are all sorts of ways for (actual) small businesses to reach customers. Collecting information without asking me is not OK, turning that information directly into money for your massive corporation is extra not OK, and it’s definitely not some altruistic vision to help “small businesses”.

Nick Herr puts a point on it:

Levy deftly conflates “advertising” and “personalized advertising”, as if there are no ways to target people planning a wedding without surveilling their web browsing behaviour. Facebook’s campaign casually ignores decades of advertising targeted based on the current webpage or video instead of who those people are because it would impact Facebook’s primary business. Most people who are reading an article about great wedding venues are probably planning a wedding, but you don’t need quite as much of the ad tech stack to make that work.

Hey, you wanna reach front-end developers? I have absolutely no secret information about you, and what little I do have (like, your email address for your CodePen account) is absolutely not for sale. But I can guess something pretty important about people that come to my websites: they are the kind of people that build websites. So if you want to advertise, ethically, to people that build websites, I got you.

Andrés Arrieta at the EFF has a good name for all this: laughable.


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