Facebook Refuses Involvement in Advertising Transparency Campaign

The Digital Advertising Alliance, an affiliation of ad trade groups, created the “Ad Options” icon for inclusion on all online advertisements in an effort to improve transparency about how advertisers are collecting and using users’ data. It’s a noble goal, but there’s only one problem: Facebook doesn’t want to participate, and as one of the biggest sellers of online advertising in the world, that’s a problem.

The image below shows an advertisement that has the icon, and a Facebook ad that obviously does not:

(Image: Ad Age)

“Facebook’s failure to participate in self-regulation makes the entire initiative very easy to criticize,” said Jim Brock, founder of PrivacyChoice. “Lots of folks on Capitol Hill love beating up on Facebook, because Facebook has inspired privacy fear in a lot of users. They do not do the program a favor by stepping outside of it.”

Facebook declined to have a representative available for an interview but issued the following statement on the matter:  “Facebook is a strong supporter of transparency and control in the online ecosystem, and we are participating in discussions with many stakeholders, including through the DAA and the U.S. Department of Commerce, about how we as an industry can best empower users to understand and make choices about the ads they see.”

The “Ad Options” icon makes it easier for users to opt out of targeting, while the process is decidedly more difficult on Facebook. By refusing to comply with industry standards, Facebook is undermining the entire legitimacy of online advertising. As one of the biggest online advertising platforms in the world, and a publicly traded company to boot, Facebook owes it to its users to be more open and transparent about its use of their data. They must realize that their hesitancy to play by the rules is why so many users are terrified that their personal data is being compromised in the first place.

To learn more about the DAA Program, click here.

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