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Companies are boycotting Facebook ads but tracking and profiling you with Facebook anyway

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It doesn’t take particularly deep insight into how tech, advertising, corporations, and mainstream media work to draw some very simple lines between these four obvious dots, and conclude: the current “advertising boycott” of Facebook is a bit of sham.

And that’s putting it mildly.

But it is refreshing to see at least some media outlets – albeit in the UK – try to do some real reporting and at least mention what is actually happening here, as big corporations try to capitalize on the current sentiment in the US, prompted by political and racial controversy.

Hence the Telegraph had this epiphany – more than 400 global brands have “frozen” (basically, temporarily suspended until the shitstorm blows over) their advertising on Facebook. But guess what – they’re still very much continuing to use Facebook’s data harvested from the 2.5 billion-or-so global users.

And that’s the real Facebook “advertising business” anyone should be concerned about. No wonder Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is accused of “not doing enough” to censor the platform. Why should he do anything?

The likes of Microsoft, Ford, Coca Cola, Starbucks, among major corporations are now feeling compelled to do lip service to “the cause” – in this current round of misdirected Facebook-bashing (and when it comes to mainstream media and the political powers behind them, these attacks are always, inexplicably, misdirected.)

But behind the scenes, one (by no means the only) method of continuing to work with Facebook regardless of all the superficial protestations is  the “Facebook pixel” – a piece of code included on these corporations’ websites that harvests your data – to then make thorough use of it by optimizing and targeting ads – for current, and future audiences.

Such is the detail of data they have at their disposal they are fee to correlate – and even remarket to anyone who’s ever touched their websites before.

This is the actual depth of the business relationship between Facebook and the companies advertising on it – not Volkswagen pulling its front-end ads from the platform, for a while.

“You can get the initial PR hit with this campaign and then, whenever you’re ready, start marketing on Facebook. But in the meantime you can still use that data to target people that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach,” digital advertising consultant Max Rymer said.

And he explained that, for some of these brands, “retaining pixel data might be more valuable than spending money on ads” as they can share it with other giants like Google and Spotify.

All of this isn’t even mentioning the idea that brands were already pulling their advertising from platforms now anyway, as the pandemic lockdowns were increasingly making it unprofitable, research shows.

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